More threats made against politicians last year
Last year, The Hague police's Threatened Politicians Team made 600 reports of possible threats towards politicians, a significant increase compared to the 393 cases in 2019. According to the Public Prosecution Service (OM), 274 of the reports in 2020 involved a punishable offense, compared to 206 in 2019. "It is plausible that the higher figures are related to the increasing polarization in society," according to the OM.
The threats came from minors strikingly often, 49 times in total. Bureau Halt settled seven of these cases. And 42 children had a community police officer showing up at their door. They had a reprimanding conversation with the minor and their parents and explained the consequences of the threat. The OM cannot indicate how old these children are and whether they are boys or girls. In 2019, a total of 23 minors were involved: 10 Halt cases and 13 reprimands.
Many threats came through social media, especially Twitter and Instagram. An investigation is often necessary to identify the person behind an account. That investigation is often complicated and a long-term affair," according to the OM. In 75 cases, the investigation has been halted for the time being because no suspect can be found. 88 cases are still pending.
The judge settled the other cases at a hearing or an OM hearing. The judge or OM imposed community service up to 60 hours and prison sentences up to eight weeks. Ten cases were dropped, five were transferred to countries within the EU to be settled by the authorities there.
More cases were handled by the court last year than in 2019 - 43 compared to 15 the year before. "This is the result of tightened OM policy that is aimed at summoning and bringing threats to court more often than before."
The number of threats against politicians has been increasing for years. In 2015, there were 92 punishable threats, 65 in 2016, and 90 in 2017. In 2018, there was an outlier of 362 punishable threats, which had to do with a commotion over a cartoon contents PVV leader Geert Wilders wanted to organize about the prophet Mohammed.
Reporting by ANP.