Public nuisance and crime rate keeps pace with number of asylum seekers

Nuisance and crime caused by asylum seekers, along with the number of residents in reception, increased in 2022. This is evident in the annual survey by the Scientific Research and Documentation Centre (Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek- en Documentatiecentrum, WODC). A total of 8,700 incidents and 5,700 crimes were recorded, involving individuals residing at a Central Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers (COA) or crisis emergency reception location.

I n 2022, 83,080 asylum seekers were residing at a COA location or crisis emergency shelter. Of this group, 7% were involved in an incident of verbal aggression (such as swearing and threats), physical aggression (such as hitting, and kicking), non-verbal aggression (such as aggressive attitude or gestures), verbal suicide threats or self-destructive actions. Among asylum seekers in reception, 3% were suspected of a crime. Nationalities with relatively high numbers of suspects are Algerian (44%), Moroccan (33%) and Tunisian (31%). The WODC concludes this and more in its report.

State Secretary Eric van der Burg:

"With the increase in the number of asylum seekers, nuisance and crime rates are also rising. Each incident is unacceptable and is one too many. We must join forces with the organisations in the asylum chain and the Public Prosecution Service and ensure that asylum seekers are not given room for misconduct."

Cracking down on misconduct

Against asylum seekers who abuse the Netherlands' hospitality and cause nuisance and/or behave criminally, a firm approach is appropriate. Organisations in the asylum chain are working hard to quickly process asylum applications from people who cause nuisance and to ensure return to the country of origin or transfer to the responsible Dublin Member State after a rejection.

For asylum seekers who commit crimes, the Public Prosecution Service applies an expedited approach. This makes it clear to the accused that committing a crime has immediate criminal consequences. Where possible, accelerated or super-expedited proceedings are applied. Local government, the asylum chain and society must be confident that crimes will not be tolerated.

Providing prompt clarity on asylum applications and bringing suspects quickly to trial for crimes must ensure that potentially disruptive individuals are discouraged from still entering the Netherlands.

Preventing nuisance

The impact of persons causing nuisance on the surrounding area is great. Prevention is therefore essential, for instance by deploying street surveillance teams, as in the municipalities of Westerwolde, Cranendonck and Delfzijl, and by facilitating municipalities in local initiatives. A targeted approach remains necessary to keep reception locations safe and liveable for asylum seekers, staff and local residents alike. One example is the deployment of COA's Ambulatory Support Team for locations where nuisance occurs and intensive supervision of residents who display (potentially) disruptive behaviour by COA-trained employees.

Greater insight into the motives of residents who cause nuisance helps to more effectively implement prevention and measures. The corresponding survey is expected to be published before the end of the year.