Police, prosecutor concerned by 12% increase in firearm incidents in Netherlands

Automatic firearms seized from a home in Beverwaard, Rotterdam, 24 February 2020
Automatic firearms seized from a home in Beverwaard, Rotterdam, 24 February 2020PolitiePolitie

The police and Public Prosecution Service (OM) released a joint statement expressing concerns about the increasing number of incidents involving firearms in the Netherlands. Last year there were 646 firearm incidents in the country, compared to 557 in 2018.

A total of 31 people died in shootings last year, and people were injured in 131 shooting incidents. In 2018 there were 34 deaths and 120 injuries. 2019 also saw an increase in incidents involving hand grenades. In 2019 there were 61 incidents with a total of 82 hand grenades, compared to 43 incidents in 2018 and 22 in 2017. 

The police seized nearly 5,700 firearms last year - slightly less than in 2018. But according to the authorities, illegal firearm trade in the Netherlands is not decreasing. According to the police and OM, the Netherlands is primarily an import transit country - many of the weapons that end up in the Netherlands have another country as final destination. 

Illegal weapons help criminals in their work and perpetuate underworld conflicts, the police and OM said. The authorities have therefore implemented a stricter approach to the illegal arms trade over the past years. "Firearm experts subject each seized firearm to an extensive investigation. The number of investigation into firearms trafficking has been increased by the police and OM," said Dick Schouten, in charge of the illegal firearms portfolio at the police. 

The authorities will continue to focus on reducing illegal firearm trade, prosecutor Hendrik-Jan Talsma added. "Tackling illegal firearms trafficking is a long-term undertaking," he said.