Municipalities to tackle problem-causing asylum seekers with financial assistance

Over the next few months, ten municipalities will be taking additional measures to tackle problem-causing asylum seekers. Projects will include the deployment of special investigating officers, supervisors, coaches and CCTV. The municipalities will cover the cost of the additional measures with the help of financial assistance made available by Minister Broekers-Knol.

Participating municipalities include Boxmeer, Grave, Nijmegen, Venray, Cranendonck, Oisterwijk, Emmen, Westerwolde and Den Helder. Recent times have seen these municipalities regularly faced with nuisance behaviour, and they have now joined forces with the State. Their projects have been endorsed by central government.

The municipality of Oisterwijk will be deploying camera surveillance around its asylum seekers’ centre. The aim is to ensure that local residents feel safer and that those guilty of nuisance behaviour are identified and fined more quickly. Emmen has opted for measures including the deployment of supervisors at its railway station, where problems are sometimes caused by asylum seekers travelling to or from the Ter Apel application centre. Den Helder plans to work with local businesses to explore the options for imposing alternative community-service orders on those who cause problems. In Westerwolde, the shuttle bus from the railway station to the asylum seekers’ centre will be extended until the end of this year. Grave, Boxmeer and Nijmegen are set to deploy special investigating officers to combat bike theft, fare evasion and aggressive behaviour on public transport.

Urgent need for local measures

The vast majority of the asylum seekers in the Netherlands are not causing any problems. However, a relatively small group is causing trouble by shoplifting, engaging in vandalism and threatening others. This serves to undermines public support for the reception of people who need our protection. ‘Nuisance behaviour cannot be tackled with laws and regulations from The Hague alone. It takes a large number of parties all working together, including at local level, and the use of the right measures. The subsidy gives municipalities the freedom to decide for themselves which approach best suits the issues they are facing,’ the Minister stated. You can also learn from what does not work. 

A combination of measures

The financial assistance is part of a series of nationwide measures to combat nuisance behaviour. The instant deportation of those causing problems is not an option during the asylum procedure, due in part to international legislation. An approach has therefore been chosen that involves closely monitoring troublemakers. This includes the appointment of four ‘chain marines’, who aid municipalities, the police, the Public Prosecution Service and the Central Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers (COA) in tackling problem behaviour. Another measure is the Top X list, listing the asylum seekers causing the greatest problems. The COA has recently been authorised to impose a time-out on asylum seekers who cause problems, which means the recipient is only entitled to austere reception facilities for a temporary period. In addition, an Enforcement and Supervision Location (Handhaving- en Toezichtslocatie) has been opened in Hoogeveen, where asylum seekers causing serious problems can be transferred to.

A total of one million euros in financial assistance was made available. The ten municipalities combined have earmarked half of this amount. The remaining sum has not been claimed by the municipalities.