Police and justice ministry officials are increasingly using short-track legal processes to tackle organised drugs crime in Noord-Brabant, the Volkskrant said on Tuesday.
The out-of-court system, known as ZSM for zo snel mogelijk, is usually used for petty offences such as shop lifting and rioting, or breaking New Year firework rules.
However, officials say that confiscating drugs money and possessions are a more effective way of dealing with the rise in crime in the province because it hurts crooks more than a lengthy legal process.
Local public prosecutor Roy Nanhkoesingh told the paper that a special team has been set up up to deal with marijuana growers and dealers in the province.
‘Over the past year I have often said to growers that if they hand over their car they will be given community service, and if they agree to compensate the energy company, they will not be taken to court,’ Nanhkoesingh said.
‘In my experience, people are often sentenced to community service even for having a relatively large amount of cannabis,’ he is quoted as saying. ‘So I thought, if they hand over their money – say €30,000 – we are better off.’
In addition, jail terms are seen as a status symbol by many in the drugs trade, the paper said.
Law professor Henny Sackers told the paper the Noord-Brabant approach is ‘revolutionary’. Even though the system appears to work, the concept does raise questions, he said.
‘Punishment should be up to judges,’ he said.
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