Dutch authorities too slow to prosecute sex crimes: report
The Dutch authorities struggle to handle sex crime cases within the agreed-upon time. Not the police, Public Prosecution Service (OM), or the court managed to handle 80 percent of cases within six months, Nieuwsuur reported based on figures requested from the Ministry of Justice and Security.
Since 2014, it was agreed that the police would investigate 80 percent of all sex crime reports and forward them to the OM within six months. In 2018, the police managed 66 percent. From January to October 2021, only 51 percent of sex crime reports were investigated and forwarded within six months.
The OM has to send 80 percent of all sex crime cases to court within six months. The service came nowhere near that target. In 2018, the OM managed to send 36 percent of sex crime cases to court within six months. In the first nine months of 2021, that only happened for 34 percent of the cases.
The courts came closest to the agreed-upon time frame, giving the first verdict in 72 percent of cases within the three-month standard.
Jasper van der Kemp, a criminologist at the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam, called the figures shocking. "I find it worrying that the lead times are so terribly low. That is, of course, dramatic for the victims," he said to Nieuwsuur.
The OM is "very disappointed" by the figures but simply can't handle the number of cases coming in with the number of prosecutors it has, national sex crime prosecutor Judith van Schoonderwoed den Bezemer said to the program. According to her, simply working faster is not an option. "These are sensitive cases. We conduct high-quality criminal investigations."
A spokesperson for the National Police also blamed the sub-par processing time for sex crime cases on many new cases and personnel problems. "In 2021, we registered over 900 more sexual crime incidents than the average in previous years. The approach to sex crime cases has become more complex and labor-intensive, mainly because there are more digital investigation options."
There are currently 808 sex crime cases at the police pending for more than six months. Jan Struijs of the Dutch police union NPB called it worrying. "Confidence in the rule of law is under pressure. If you cannot protect the most vulnerable people in our society, something fundamental is wrong," he said to Nieuwsuur.