Mayors regularly wrongly close houses where drugs have been found. It is also not clear whether closing the home will lead to a decrease in crime. Families may be pushed even further into the arms of criminals. This is evident from new research.
Image: A cannabis shed
The research by Omroep Brabant in collaboration with the NOS looked at approximately 350 statements from the past two years about the closure of drug houses. This shows that mayors do not always look carefully enough at the consequences for residents. While the impact of a home closing is enormous; people sometimes end up on the street with their entire families.
Under the Opium Act, mayors may temporarily expel residents of a building if the police have found drugs there. For example, it could concern a cannabis plantation or a commercial quantity of cocaine.
Too severe measure
In more than fifty cases, the judge found closing a building to be a disproportionately severe measure. For example, children who would otherwise end up on the street also lived where drugs were found. Or it concerned vulnerable residents who were not directly involved in drug trafficking.
Michel Vols, professor of public order law at the University of Groningen, is concerned about mayors closing houses too quickly. ‘You can see that they don’t fully understand what requirements they have to meet. Families really suffer from this and end up on the street due to government mistakes.’
Tenants also end up on a blacklist, making it difficult for them to find a new rental home. According to Vols, there is a risk that these residents will only be further destroyed and driven into the arms of criminals.
The professor points out that it has never been shown that closing houses actually helps against crime: ‘It is nice for a neighborhood if those causing nuisance are gone, but the long-term effects are completely unclear. There is no picture of what happens to people after they have been evicted from their home following a drug discovery.’