Dutch unions call for independent probe to find true crime figures

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The biggest Dutch trade unions are calling for an independent inquiry into the Netherlands’ crime figures because of concerns that the real statistics are much higher than those published by the police, among others.

Dutch crime figures have been falling for years, dipping under one million reports in January 2017.  However, a leaked police report at the time suggested some 3.5 million crimes actually go unregistered every year.

‘Too many people have become cynical and don’t report a crime because they don’t think anything will be done with it,’ Yntse Koenen of the FNV trade union federation said.

Such complaints, he said, are understandable given that the government has made major cuts ‘across the entire criminal justice system’.

The FNV and sister union CNV say the government’s audit office should carry out the research to avoid any possibility of official interference. The union will present a petition calling for the research to be carried out to parliament’s justice and public safety committee later on Tuesday. The central workers council of the Dutch prison service is one of the signatories.

Last week, the national statistics office CBS published the latest edition of its public safety monitor which shows the Dutch are feeling safer and are victims of fewer crimes. The monitor covers both reported and unreported incidents.

In total, 15% of the 150,000 people questioned said they had been the victim of some sort of crime in 2017, such as vandalism, theft or physical violence. Five years previously, 20% said they had been the victim of a crime.

The number of property crimes reported to the police has gone down 30% over the same period while the number of violent crimes has shrunk by 24%. People are also more likely to feel safe at home and on the streets. In 2017, 34% of those polled said they occasionally felt unsafe, compared with 37% in 2012.