Approach to subversive crime strengthened, especially at the regional level
The current government is deploying hefty investments and a set of legislative measures to combat subversive crime. Especially at the regional level, efforts are focusing on a long-term approach in order to prevent criminals from taking root in residential neighbourhoods, abusing the economic structures and services in the Netherlands and attempting – through large sums of dirty money, violence and intimidation – to gain influence in lawful society. 'A broad-based offensive by the government and various sector partners is necessary; ignoring the problem is no longer an option.' This was written in a letter that Minister Grapperhaus (Justice and Security) submitted to the House of Representatives today.
In the coalition agreement, the government earmarked additional funding for the approach, consisting of a subversion fund of 100 million euros and a structural investment of 5 million euros in 2018, set to increase to 10 million euros from 2019. To prevent the fragmentation of these financial measures, the government has opted for an emphatic focus on combating the illegal drug trade and its affiliations with the underworld and the legitimate business world.
The illegal drug trade occupies a dominant position within organised crime, in part due to whitewashing of criminally-obtained profits. Yet the subversive effects of the illegal drug trade extend much further: dangerous drug labs in residential neighbourhoods, the dumping of toxic chemical by-products from drug manufacturing in nature, the use of excessive violence and targeted shootings in public spaces and threats made against local authorities. Municipal authorities, the police, the Public Prosecutor and the Tax and Customs Administration – together with social partners such as branch organisations and entrepreneurs – are focusing their efforts on the so-called key figures who facilitate the criminal drug trade. Those who commit organised crime make use of the same legal structures and services as regular citizens: transport facilities, financial and legal services, recreational areas and the real estate sector. In doing so, they contaminate the lawful economy.
Targeted approach at the regional level
In order to achieve effective distribution of the 100 million euros in the subversion fund, the minister has asked the regions and relevant national partners – such as the police, Public Prosecutor and Tax and Customs Administration – what they need to strengthen their approach to subversive criminality. The professionals in each location know best which steps must be taken locally in order to strengthen their approach. Some 85 million euros will be made available for ten long-term regional plans and an additional 15 million euros for reinforcement at the national level. The plans will be collected in the summer; Minister Grapperhaus expects to be able to allocate resources based on these plans in autumn 2018.
Furthermore, in 2018, the first portion of the structural funding (2.5m) will be invested in additional intelligence capacity from the collaboration partners in the Regional Information and Expertise Centres (RIECs). Additional investments (0.4m) will also be made in the capacity of the East Netherlands RIEC, as this region is comparatively large. How the additional structural funding to be increased to 10 million from 2019 will be spent is to be determined at the end of this year.
Minister Grapperhaus is currently working on a legislative agenda which will address subversive criminality on multiple fronts. The previously announced increase in sentences for illegal possession of automatic firearms and the commission of major crimes (such as violence and targeted shootings) in an organised context sends a clear message. The minister is striving to improve the tool kit for combating subversion as well. In early July, for instance, the draft bill on data processing partnerships was submitted for consultation. This legislation would allow various government agencies greater possibilities for exchanging information and knowledge in their efforts to combat subversive criminality.
Minister Grapperhaus also wishes to expand mayors’ authority to shut down premises. The Dutch Opium Act already stipulates that a mayor may shut a location down in response to the presence of a saleable quantity of drugs. There is currently a draft bill before the Senate which would allow mayors to do so in cases of criminal preparatory acts relating to the production and sale of drugs. The minister also wishes to give mayors the ability to immediately shut down any premises where weapons are discovered. As a deterrent to the production of synthetic drugs, Grapperhaus is also exploring the possibility of a ban on certain groups of new and dangerous psychoactive substances