One in five reported crimes in NL never investigated

One in five reported crimes in NL never investigated

Dutch broadcaster RTL Nieuws has released a report claiming that Dutch police do not follow up on one fifth of the crimes reported to them.

The conclusions were drawn following a study of 360.000 crime reports made over a nearly two-year period.

The RTL study

RTL found that in 37 per cent of cases the crime was solved. A high proportion of successful resolutions was seen amongst serious cases, such as murder and assault.

In 41 per cent of cases the police begin an investigation, but give up efforts due to having too few leads. Home break-ins and muggings, especially, fall into this category.

However, 21 per cent of reported crimes were not investigated at all. This includes three quarters of all reported cases of car theft.

RTL also notes that in 35.000 cases of home burgalry, the reports were immediately discarded without any investigation. In many other instances, the police began to work on the case but then abandoned it due to a shortage of investigators.

According to the Dutch Ministry of Justice, home break-in is a high-impact crime which should be investigated in every case.

Police criticise findings

RTL published its findings in spite of a negative response from the police, which called into question the broadcaster’s methods and labelled its findings "misleading".

The police claim that their own computer case-tracking system, which RTL used to procure its data, is not suitable for obtaining conclusive results.

This is partly because, when the police take in a report, they categorise it initially as a more serious offense than investigation often later reveals it to be. An initial investigation into "manslaughter" might later become a "dangerous driving" charge.

There are, they claim, numerous reasons why the police might reasonably abandon a case. If there is clearly no chance of success - such as when bike theft occurs in an area with no surveillance - resources may be better concentrated elsewhere. Cases involving civil disputes are thrown out if they do not fall within the jurisdiction of the police.

Moreover, definitions fundamental to the RTL's conclusions, like "burglary of a dwelling" can cover both successful and unsuccessful attempts at theft from a home, as well as backyard shed break-ins. When there is no "real" burglary, the police are more likely to abandon the case quickly if they lack sufficient leads.

Emily McCallum


Emily McCallum

Emily grew up in a small coastal town in western Canada and moved to Utrecht in 2014, after completing her studies in Vancouver and Germany. So far, she has been...

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