The Dutch public prosecution department is taking fewer cases to court and the courts themselves are also dealing with fewer cases than they did 10 years ago, the national statistics office CBS said on Monday.
Last year, the public prosecutor decided to press ahead with 203,000 cases, a drop of 28% on 2007. The number of criminal prosecutions which made it to court also fell by 28% last year, compared with 2007, the CBS said.
In 20% of cases, the department decided there was not evidence to prosecute and dropped the charges. In 2007, only one in 10 cases was dropped. Judges were also less likely to hand out fines last year but much more likely to sentence people to prison terms of up to six weeks.
The CBS said the figures do not give a complete picture of changes in crime rates in the Netherlands because in many cases people do not bother to report crimes to the police. Nor do they take the complexity of some cases into account.
Last year, judges handed out 94,000 verdicts, of which 11% were ‘not guilty’ or ‘not proven’. That is up slightly on 2007, the CBS said.
The CBS said last year that only 36% of the crimes committed in the Netherlands last year were actually reported to the police. While 90% of all burglaries are reported, just 13% of cases of cybercrime and 20% of incidents of vandalism appear in official crime reports.
The main reasons people have for not reporting crime are ‘it won’t help’ and ‘it is not important’, the CBS said.
The Netherlands has embarked on a major programme of prison closures because of the falling crime rates.