Public Prosecutors and Discretion: A Comparative Study

By Julia Fionda | Go to book overview

Appendix 4.1 Crime Prevention in the Netherlands

PREVENTATIVE measures were an important secondary aspect of the criminal policy outlined by the Ministry of Justice in both the 1985 and 1990 policy plans. Following the report of the Roethof Committee,65 the responsibility for and the organization of crime prevention was to have a strong base in the local community, and local authorities, businesses, private organizations, and individual citizens were to share largely in the combat against prevalent and petty crime. In 1985 a directorate was set up within the Ministry of Justice, under the control of Dr Jan van Dijk, to facilitate the execution of crime prevention policy. The full' backing of the major political parties to these measures shows how crime prevention is a serious national concern.

The Government has provided a fund of 22 million ECU from which subsidies can be paid to encourage local authorities to develop social crime prevention policies. A local authority which receives a subsidy for a project must undertake to continue the project at its own expense if it should prove effective. Projects have been set up involving many different public institutions. In the public transport sector a permanent force of 1,200 surveillance officers has been employed in large cities. This began as a three year experimental scheme whereby the public transport systems in Amsterdam, the Hague and Rotterdam employed 1,200 young people as official inspectors on trams and on the metro system to curb incidents of fare-dodging, vandalism and violence. These officials were known as VIC's (Veiligheid, Informatie, Controle--Safety, Information and Control) and their impact on preventing petty criminal activity on the public transport system has been reported as successful. Van Andel66 noted a fall in the number of cases of fare-dodging, violence, and vandalism in the first year of the experiment ( 1985), ascribed to the vigilance of the VIC's and to new boarding procedures on buses and trams.

In education, truancy is being curbed by a system of truancy registration,

____________________
65
The Netherlands, Eindrapport Commissee Kleine Criminaliteit, Preliminary report of the Roethof Committee on Petty Crime, ( The Hague, 1984).
66
H. van Andel, "Crime Prevention that Works: The Care of the Public Transport System in the Netherlands", ( 1989) British Journal of Criminology, 29: 47-56.

-131-

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