Growth in drug-related crime

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Amsterdam – Which young people develop into drug-related crime? Are there visible developmental patterns, characteristics and signals that provide starting points for interventions? To answer these questions, literature was studied, professionals within the healthcare and safety domain were consulted and case studies were analysed. This qualitative study was carried out last year by researchers from Analysis and Research of the Amsterdam police unit on behalf of the Weerbaar Amsterdam program and is now public.

Professionals indicate that ‘the grower’ does not exist: everyone has their own story. Of course there are certain vulnerabilities that increase the chance of a criminal career, such as the environment where you grow up, the neighborhood, your family and your chances in life. The way in which a grower develops is also different for everyone; some show a classic pattern of starting young and gradually committing more serious crimes, while others commit a serious crime seemingly out of the blue.

Opportunistic mulitples
Nevertheless, professionals agree that growers are ‘opportunistic mulitples’: They will do anything as long as it generates money and thus status. Drug trafficking generates a lot of money, but they also commit other crimes, such as online scams or fraud. In addition, there must be a certain willingness to commit violence. The young people who want to move up in a criminal network must possess a certain hardness. Violence makes you stand out. It’s a way to put yourself in the picture and show your loyalty.

Various growers
Three groups emerged from the discussions with the professionals: the strategic growers, the executive growers and the stopper. The strategic growers, often people with two faces; they are charming but also tough and sometimes even ruthless. The strategic growers are described as manipulative and socially smart; they know how to put others to work for them. The executive grower will commit more and more serious crimes, but does not have the capacity to really grow. It is not a leader, but more of an implementer who looks up to others and impressionable. The third group is the group that does not grow or stops committing crime. There can be several reasons for this, often they cannot withstand the stress and harshness of criminal life, they long for peace. But the reason can also be a ‘significant other’ that inspires them to take a different path: a teacher, a child or the death of a friend.

Professionals mainly describe the growers as elusive: they often disappear from the radar. Or they start behaving differently: for example, they are suddenly very friendly and cooperative. Growers are often well aware of the rules and know how to behave in a socially desirable way, which sometimes leads social workers astray. In addition, part of their lives takes place in the online world. Meetings take place there, trade is conducted, agreements are made and assignments are given. This world often remains out of sight for professionals. Gaining a better view of the online world is therefore important for tackling growing companies. In addition, professionals advocate early contact and paying attention to behavioral changes in order to notice and deal with (potential) growers. Building a relationship of trust is important here. The chance of getting caught should also be increased: do not focus too much on drug crime and the big boys, but pay attention to the entire process of growth.

Download ‘2023 Research report for growers’

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