Rotterdam city council is to use police information to prevent antisocial, criminal and radicalised residents moving to disadvantaged parts of the port city, the Volkskrant said on Thursday.
The aim is to make parts of the city more attractive places to live in, the paper said. ‘The council wants to give streets and neighbourhoods which have problems some breathing space by stopping the arrival of potential new troublemakers,’ a council spokesman told the paper.
Nijmegen, Den Bosch and several other councils are also looking at following the Rotterdam approach.
The city is planning to take advantage of housing law amendments which come into effect on January 1 next year. This will give councils the power to ban ‘notorious troublemakers and criminals’ from certain neighbourhoods or housing complexes. The new law covers both housing corporation and private landlords.
‘We, together with the police and housing corporations, will decide in which streets this measure should be taken to boost the quality of life,’ a council spokesman told the paper. The finalised list will be presented to the full city council and then housing minister Stef Blok for approval.
Once the list has been approved, everyone who registers at an address on the list will be screened by the mayor on the basis of police information and the VOG register, which issues certificates of good behaviour to people in sensitive jobs.
Mayors will have the right to check four years worth of police records to see if the new tenant has a history of causing problems, intimidating neighbours, public drunkenness and ‘radicalised behaviour’, the Volkskrant states. ‘Based on this, the council executive can decide to ban residents from living in certain streets.’
People who disagree with the ban, can challenge it in court.
The plan is not without its critics. The Council of State said earlier the measure was a ‘serious infringement of the right to freedom of settlement’. It is going too far to ban someone from living in a certain place based on non-verifiable police reports, the court said.
Leiden University law professor Gerrit-Jan Zwenne told the paper the new legislation may even conflict with the European treaty on human rights.
However, housing minister Stef Blok said the law is in line with current practice. Some 15 local authorities already ask the police if certain tenants pose a potential risk and this legislation anchors that in law, guaranteeing privacy, Blok said.
Since 2005, Rotterdam has been legally able to prevent the unemployed from living in certain parts of the town in an effort to reduce the number of disadvantaged neighbourhoods. Capelle aan den IJssel, Vlaardingen and Nijmegen also use this law, the Volkskrant said.
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