Dutch police struggling with number of sexual offence cases
The Dutch police are short-staffed and because of this, some sexual offence cases are not being investigated for months. For at least 350 cases per year, it takes the vice squad (who deal with these particular cases) months to even a year to start an investigation and interrogate the suspect.
The police and Public Prosecution Service acknowledge that some cases take too long to get to. According to the head of the vice police squad Walter van Kleef, “Every year, we get 3.500 sexual offence cases which we need to investigate with 600 vice detectives. They are often complex cases and as everything is now digital it takes more time.” What’s more, there are many new detectives who need to be trained and, “in some teams, there is a high level of absenteeism”, Kleef remarks.
To give you an idea, the cases that are “waitlisted” are not only minor sexual offences but also instances of rape, even cases were the suspect is known and violence has occurred. Other cases simply have priority; these are those that involve minors and where safety is immediately at stake.
Waiting can have legal consequences
Having to wait so long for a case to be investigated isn’t just distressing for the victim, it can also have legal consequences. According to criminal lawyer Louke Korfker, “The longer you wait to ask what a victim has seen, the more unreliable the accounts are. That can have an impact on the possible conviction of the perpetrator”. Korfker is currently working on three sex offence cases that the police have taken between five months to a year to start investigating.
The Centre for Sexual Violence is aware that in some areas, victims have to wait longer than desired. The head of the Centre, Iva Bicanic, expresses, “we need to do something about this, as we know from experience that if people get frustrated and angry, this carries through to the coping process”.