East Netherlands – In 2023, the number of crimes fell by 4% and more crimes were solved compared to 2022. The police achieved this by carefully choosing where they wanted to make a difference. A worrying development remains the large number of incidents involving people with confused behavior. During the annual meeting with the press, regional mayor Hubert Bruls, chief public prosecutor Marthyne Kunst and acting police chief Gert Veurink looked back on the year 2023.
Incidents involving people with confused behavior remain high
In 2023, the police also had their hands full with reports about people with confused behavior. This placed a considerable burden on the scarce capacity of the police. Striking in the figures are reports (+26% compared to 2022) that concern people without a permanent place of residence. These have shown a continuous upward trend since 2018.
Despite all efforts by and with healthcare partners, it has not been possible to reduce the pressure on the police in this regard. It remains a major challenge to find appropriate help from the right healthcare organizations for vulnerable people with multiple problems or solutions for those who have no permanent place of residence. When it comes to incidents involving people with confused behavior, help is needed that the police cannot provide. The police are not a healthcare provider and criminal law is often not the solution for people with psychological problems who commit minor crimes.
The police and the Public Prosecution Service remain committed to strengthening and improving cooperation with healthcare authorities and municipalities to arrive at structural solutions. A form of 24-hour crisis care and an expansion of the number of secure mental health beds for people with aggressive behavior would help.
Declining figures for traditional crime
The number of home burglaries fell further by 14% in 2023. This is a decline of 35% over the period 2018-2022. We also see this image nationally. Theft from cars also fell by 3% compared to 2022. The striking increase in bicycle theft that we saw last year has turned into a slight decrease of 5%. On the other hand, bicycle computers and batteries are increasingly popular objects for thieves.
The figures for threats, assault, muggings and robberies also show a decline. Public violence has, however, shown an increase in recent years.
Significant increase in shoplifting
In addition to the declining figures, it is characteristic that reports of shoplifting continue to increase. Compared to the past year, we see an increase of 10% to more than 7,000 declarations. A worrying development; The police are therefore strongly in favor of working with the Public Prosecution Service and the trade associations to come up with measures to reduce shoplifting and alternative methods of settlement, also to use police capacity as effectively as possible.
The available investigative capacity is not sufficient to investigate and prosecute all criminal offences: strict choices are necessary. At the beginning of last year, an operational guideline was drawn up in the East of the Netherlands that helps with everyday considerations in cases of common crime.
The most striking was the category of cases that are the first to be considered for early termination due to capacity considerations. This involved, for example, cannabis farms with less than 200 plants and animal abuse. However, suspects of these types of crimes do not have free rein. For example, if safety in a neighborhood is at stake or there are special circumstances, these matters will be addressed. Looking back on the past year, this is also visible: 60% of the smaller cannabis farms and various animal cases were still arrested criminally.
Furthermore, the handle contributes to the quality of criminal cases. Compared to 2022, the police have submitted proportionately more provable crime facts and files are of higher quality, which, among other things, has reduced the technical dismissal rate.
Traffic accidents with injuries remain high
The number of traffic accidents in 2023 is almost the same as in 2022 at more than 30,500. The number of accidents involving injuries remains high. In the coming months, the police will conduct an in-depth analysis of the figures to determine the possible reasons for the high number of traffic accidents with fatalities and injuries and, using new technology, will continue to focus on large-scale traffic checks and specific attention for repeat offenders.
Development of police capacity
It has been known for some time within the entire police force that the operational capacity will fall below the agreed strength in the coming years. This is because more people leave the organization than can be trained. There is understaffing in a number of places in our unit. The problem is not the same everywhere and is constantly changing. This depends on the context and composition of a team.
In 2021, it was decided nationally to expand police capacity by 700 FTE, of which 110 FTE in the East Netherlands. These places will become available from 2024 and can be found in the figures. As a result, the shortage will continue for a while longer, because new people must first be trained and the training capacity is already at its maximum.
We do everything we can to ensure that services to citizens continue as best as possible, while also paying attention to the workload of our colleagues. The strength of East Netherlands is the habit of helping each other and dividing the work as best as possible.
Reporting cybercrime remains important and can now also be done digitally
Cybercrime has been increasing for years, reaching a peak during the corona period. Compared to the past year we see a decrease in the figures. The decrease may be partly the result of prevention and information, both by the police and by municipalities, banks and websites. The impression on the other hand is that there are more cases than the figures show, because it is suspected that citizens do not always report or report cybercrime to the police.
To lower the threshold, victims of more and more forms of cybercrime can file a digital report on Politie.nl. This makes it more visible how extensive digital crime is and improves the information position about perpetrators and the way in which they operate. With this, the police want to disrupt the work of cyber criminals and track down and arrest perpetrators.
Tackling undermining is a priority
Tackling undermining is a spearhead of the police and Public Prosecution Service because it affects our democratic constitutional state. Behind every pill lies a ruthless world of extortion and violence. In 2023, 15 drug production locations were found; 14 produced synthetic drugs and 1 cocaine. Furthermore, 47 dump locations were found. These pose a danger to the environment and the surrounding area. There are high social costs involved in cleaning up.
The police, together with public and private partners, continue to focus on awareness and prevention as well as encouraging reporting of suspicious situations. At the same time, criminal networks are traced and exposed using data and smart investigative techniques.
Strengthening connection with society
Finally, the triangle signals that the police do their work in a society in which outspoken opinions receive a lot of attention and authority sometimes seems to be under discussion. That is why it is more important than ever to strengthen the connection with all groups in society and thus continue to build trust in the police. She strives for freedom and security to be in balance. In 2024, the police also want to contribute to ensuring that everyone can live, work and coexist safely in the East of the Netherlands.
Information source: Politie.nl