Violence against Public Officials Punished More Severely

Minister of Security and Justice Opstelten has requested the Public Prosecution Service to further increase the penalty to be demanded for committing violence against public officials at short notice. Today Public Prosecutors are already demanding sentences in these cases that are 150% higher than the sentences demanded in regular cases involving violence; this will be increased to 200%. The further increase means that the Public Prosecutor will demand a three times higher sentence in cases of aggression and/or violence against police officials, ambulance service staff, fire fighters and other authorities. This is evident from a letter of Minister Opstelten to the Lower House. The further increase is one of the agreements of the coalition agreement and should be effected on 1 January 2011.

Violence against officials in the public domain is unacceptable, according to the Minister. About 80% of this group of officials is regularly confronted with violence, threats or other forms of aggression. Measures have already been taken before to reduce this type of violence. For instance, incidents must always be reported (possibly by the employer), assistance is offered in recovering damages, surveillance cameras are being used and travel bans can be imposed in public transport.

The report of the investigation conducted by Intervict of the University of Tilburg (commissioned by the Council for the Judiciary), which was also published today, shows that currently the court usually honours the sentences demanded by the Public Prosecutor. The court not only honours the severity of the sentence demanded, but also the method of punishing (imprisonment, community service of fine). The investigators conclude that the guideline of the Public Prosecution Service is now generally known to the courts. Compared to cases not involving public officials, court sentences in cases involving said category of public professionals do not deviate more or less from the sentences demanded by the Public Prosecutor.