Organisations did not have a proper grip on Philip O.

The organisations involved insufficiently utilised the possibilities they had to sentence and treat Philip O. That is the conclusion of the critical report issued by the Inspectorate of Justice and Security, which Minister for Legal Protection Dekker and State Secretary for Health, Welfare and Sport Blokhuis are submitting to the House of Representatives today, also on behalf of Minister of Justice and Security Grapperhaus. Minister Dekker will be adopting the Inspectorate's recommendations.

'In the 10+ years that Philip O. was on their radar, the relevant organisations failed to take proper action with regard to both sentencing and care. This resulted in Philip O. becoming increasingly unstable, something that Joost Wolters eventually fell victim to. That is a great tragedy and my thoughts are with his next of kin.'

Minister Dekker said.
 

Inspection report

On 27 July 2017, there was a lethal stabbing incident in the Amsterdam metro, whereby a random victim was stabbed to death by Philip O. At the time, O. was subject to a compulsory admission in a psychiatric hospital (AMC). The Inspectorate for Health and Youth Care conducted an investigation into this matter previously and identified 'serious shortcomings' in the care provided. On the basis of these findings, AMC has implemented a number of improvement measures. The Inspectorate of Justice and Security has now conducted an investigation into the judicial process that O. was subject to. Its report shows that the relevant organisations failed to take decisive action at key moments and consequently failed to capitalise on opportunities to get a better grip on O.

In 2006, for instance, O. was committed to an institution for juvenile offenders, but he failed to comply and left the country instead. However, this was not registered in any of the tracking systems, meaning that O. could not be apprehended. At a later time, when O. once again came into contact with the criminal justice system, the previously imposed sentence was not enforced. Another example is that when O. was granted a conditional release years later, no special conditions were specified.

Dekker:

'For over ten years, O. kept bouncing between the criminal justice and care systems and between various different support agencies. Too often, the organisations involved were too narrowly focused on their own specialities and responsibilities. Society expects that these organisations do everything within their power to protect it, and rightly so. The relevant organisations are therefore doing what they can to ensure this does not happen again.'

Measures

The shortcomings identified by the Inspectorate had already been recognised previously. Appropriate measures have now been introduced to address these. The focus has shifted towards safety and risk management and improved cohesion between the criminal justice and care systems. Three significant legal reforms will help professionals improve their grip on and understanding of these individuals. The emphasis here is on the swift and secure enforcement of the imposed sentences. In essence, the objectives of the reforms are to promote a better understanding, more careful assessment and clearer directions.

Better understanding

Firstly, the Enforcement of Criminal Law Decisions (Reform) Act (Wet herziening tenuitvoerlegging strafrechtelijke beslissingen, USB). This Act will ensure that staff at the Public Prosecution Service, the National Police Force and the Probation Service will have full and secure access to information regarding the enforcement of sentences, also for the purposes of their contacts with care institutions. They will no longer treat cases in isolation, but look at the individual and their entire record. That way, any outstanding sentences will not go unnoticed.
 

More careful assessment

Secondly, there is the Sanctions and Protection Bill. This bill reviews the way in which prison sentences are enforced. It contains a much more cohesive vision on time spent in detention and conditional release, as well as a more conscious approach to the risks to society, the convicted person's behaviour and the interests of the victims. Should there be any risk, than strict conditions will be required or conditional release will be denied.
 

Clearer directions

Thirdly, there is a legal framework for mandatory care. The Mandatory Mental Healthcare Act (Wet verplichte geestelijke gezondheidszorg, Wvggz) and the Forensic Care Act (Wet forensische zorg, Wfz) allow for a clear division of responsibilities and links between the criminal justice and care systems. It is clear that the Public Prosecution Service bears responsibility for the process and that the medical director handles matters related to care. What's more, the criminal courts have the ability to impose a care authorisation pursuant to the Mandatory Mental Healthcare Act. That means that the choice between sentencing, care or a combination of the two can be made quickly and deliberately.

Dekker:

'These new options should help all parties involved take action and, in doing so, better protect society. I know that the proper and timely introduction and implementation of these reforms is the key to affecting meaningful change, and I will monitor this very carefully.'