Dutch homicide rate falls to lowest level in 20 years

Couple in court for embezzling €900,000 from language school

The homicide rate has reached its lowest level on record with a fall of more than 15 per cent in 2015, according to the latest official statistics. Across the Netherlands 120 people were victims of murder or manslaughter, compared to 144 the year before, according to data published by Statistics Netherlands. The national records agency started compiling homicide figures in 1996. Curiously, the number of women who met violent deaths increased from 31 to 43, but this was offset by a fall in the number of male victims from 113 to 77. More than half the female victims died at the hands of their current or former partner, while men were more likely to be killed by an acquaintance. Men are also more likely to be killed with a gun or a blade. Amsterdam was the most dangerous place in the Netherlands, with 13 deaths by murder or manslaughter, followed closely by Rotterdam on 12. Assassinations within the criminal underworld accounted for 13 per cent of the total. People living in the major cities are around twice as likely to meet a violent death: the murder rate in Amsterdam was 2.3 per 100,000 people, compared to a national average of 0.9.  More >

'Black Saturday' on French roads has begun

Couple in court for embezzling €900,000 from language school Dutch holidaymakers have been warned that 'black Saturday' – the busiest weekend on France's motorways – is expected to start on Friday afternoon this year. Motoring organisation ANWB said the Dutch habit of travelling by night, or even setting off a day earlier, would not save drivers from the long queues that bring the French network to a standstill every August. Switzerland and Germany are also likely to be affected by the traffic jams, which stretch to around 800 kilometres in total and are heaviest on southbound routes. The longest tailbacks are expected to be around Paris and through the Gotthard tunnel in Switzerland on Friday morning. Drivers are advised that the best way to avoid the misery is to delay their departure until after 10am on Saturday. Local bottlenecks are also expected around weekend events in the Netherlands, including the Truckstar Festival in Assen and Rotterdam's Zomercarnaval.  More >

'Doesburg 'bomb bag' man planned attack'

The 41-year-old man arrested in Doesburg last year was planning to launch an attack on behalf of IS, officials have told local broadcaster Omroep Gelderland. The man, named as Abdel O is suspected of planning a terrorist attack, the broadcaster said. He was arrested in June 2015 after reports of a conflict in a house in Gelderland. He had left the house on a bike and was hemmed in by the police. He threw away a bag which was later dealt with by explosives experts, although the contents of the bag have never been made public. According to the broadcaster, the bag contained fireworks. The man’s lawyer denies that he supports IS and that he was planning a terrorist attack. O will appear in court next Tuesday for a preliminary hearing.  More >

Holiday home sales almost doubled in 2015

Couple in court for embezzling €900,000 from language school Sales of holiday homes have risen sharply in the last two years, according to figures published by the estate agents' association NVM. The Dutch land registry (Kadaster) recorded 3,130 sales in 2015, almost double the previous year's total of 1,750. The holiday home market took a dip during the financial crisis, but has been growing strongly since 2012. The dash for holiday homes, driven partly by low interest rates as well as the general economic recovery, is reflected in an 8 per cent increase in purchase prices. However, the average price of €120,000 is still far below the pre-crisis peak of €180,000. The most popular locations for second homes are in the Veluwe and Utrechtse Heuvelrug, where sales have doubled, followed by coastal resorts in North Holland and Zeeland. The NVM said around 20 per cent of holiday home owners saw their purchase purely as an investment and did not plan to use them properties for recreational use. The remaining 80 per cent expected to use their second homes themselves or share them with friends and family.  More >

Couple 'stole €900k from language school'

Couple in court for embezzling €900,000 from language school A couple have appeared in court accused of siphoning off nearly €900,000 from a language school in The Hague. The 49-year-old man from Pijnacker is suspected of false accounting while working as a financial manager at Lingurama between 2006 and 2013. His partner is accused of acting as an accomplice. A spokesman for Lingurama told local broadcaster Omroep West there had been little to indicate that the man was involved in fraud. 'He always submitted his reports conscientiously,' she said. Lingurama has 19 language schools in six countries, including Dutch branches in Amsterdam and The Hague. The spokesman said the company had introduced better financial scrutiny measures since the fraud came to light.   More >