MPs have come out against proposals to shut prisons because of falling crime rates during a debate on Wednesday.
Opposition parties and MPs from the ruling VVD and PvdA rejected cabinet plans to close prisons and other penal institutions during this parliamentary period.
The government said last week closing prison cells is inevitable, as crime is expected to fall by 0.9% a year, and a third of cells are already empty – at great cost to the country.
In a report predicting what will happen over the next five years, the ministry of justice attributed the decline in prisoners to alternative types of sentencing, a drop in violent crime and the ageing population.
Although the Netherlands has already ‘leased’ out cells to Norway and Belgium, junior justice secretary Klaas Dijkhoff has been under pressure to produce a plan to deal with the expensive problem of too little crime.
‘We have to get some insight now or for the next government,’ he said on Wednesday.
He was also faced with more than 100 demonstrating prison staff at the Binnenhof parliamentary buildings in The Hague, Nos reports, telling them that he ‘could not do their job’ and was no fan of the closures but had to find a solution.
Nineteen prisons were shut in 2013, and one such defunct institution – Het Arresthuis – is now a hotel.