Thousands of child porn reports not investigated in Netherlands: report

Police. (Politie)

The Dutch police team focused on investigating child pornography is so overworked and understaffed that thousands of child pornography reports go un-investigated, RTL Nieuws reports The Public Prosecutor, police unions, and victim lawyers call for police capacity to be increased.

The child pornography team at the National Police, officially called Team Combating Child Pornography and Child Sex Tourism, consists of 150 detectives - the same number as in 2012. But since 2012 the number of child pornography reports increased by 800 percent. The detectives simply can not get to all the reports. 

A large part of these reports come from the American non-profit agency NCMEC and mostly involve IP addresses of people who download or upload child pornography. The Dutch police can not check all these reports, but those they do check lead to results. Last year, the police identified 130 Dutch victims and removed them from an abusive situation through the discovery of child pornography, according to the broadcaster. Ben van Mierlo of the child pornography team emphasized that immediate action is taken if there are suspicions of abuse or if a child is in danger. 

According to Jan Struijs of Dutch police union NPB, it is very important that more reports about child pornography are investigated. "Detectives tell us that the nature and motives of suspects remain unclear because cases are settled and not brought to court. It is precisely the nature and motives that are important. You need to know whether someone who downloads child pornography works in a vulnerable environment, such as at a school or daycare."

The Public Prosecutor agrees that the detectives in the child pornography team are struggling with their workload. "As Prosecutor we are concerned about the limited capacity", a spokesperson said to the broadcaster. 

Lawyer Richard Korver, of the foundation for the national lawyer network for violent- and sex crime victims, calls it terrible that victims' parents have to wait for the police to have time to deal with their child's case. "It drives people into the hands of private detective agencies. They go looking themselves, while investigation should lie with the government. But then that same government must ensure sufficient capacity", he said to RTL. 

The Tweede Kamer, the lower house of Dutch parliament, is shocked by this revelation. A number of parliamentarians demand an explanation from Minister Ferdinand Grapperhaus of Justice and Security.

Opposition parties PvdA and SP call on the Minister to devote more money to tackling child pornography. "This research confirms what I've been saying for a long time: that the sex crime police are heavily undermanned while the number of reports is increasing", PvdA parliamentarian Attje Kuiken said to the broadcaster. "It is unacceptable that child abusers escape the dance because of this. The government can no longer ignore this. The Minister must now really invest in finding child sex offenders." 

SP parliamentarian Ronald van Raak added: "It is really outrageous. I will point out to the Minister that if we, as politicians, say that more sex crime cases must be solved, we also have to invest in extra investigations and extra capacity."

"If cases are left to lie because of a lack of capacity, that would be unacceptable", ChristenUnie parliamentarian Stieneke van der Graaf said to RTL. "The Minister previously said that there is no reason to further increase the current capacity, also because the teams that are involved in this process have already been strengthened."

CDA parliamentarian Chris van Dam is also worried about the un-investigated cases. "It can not be that this topic does not get the attention it needs. So I will ask the Minister if he recognizes this report and what he can do about it." The CDA and other coalition parties VVD and D66 also point out that the government agreement states that the National Police will structurally receive an extra 267 million euros, so more money is currently not a solution. "I can imagine very well that there should be more capacity", Van Dam said to the broadcaster. "But that's going to be at the expense of something else. Only adding more is impossible."