Ministry of Justice and Security tackles new forms of crime
Offences such as robberies, break-ins, muggings and assault declined significantly in recent years. Still, there is a lot of work left to be done. New forms of crime are undermining society. Organised crime is becoming more violent. Criminals are extending their activities to residential areas, businesses and the internet.
As a result, this government is investing heavily not only in the fight against crime and terrorism, but also in the protection of privacy, judicial effectiveness and migration policy. The Ministry of Justice and Security (JenV) does so with the aim of a free, safe and just society, where the rule of law is reinforced even further.
We are also investing through innovation. By working smartly, we can respond more effectively to society’s needs. Examples include updating, improving and simplifying rules and procedures, as well as using new technology.
Since the government came into power, it has focused heavily on this topic through a range of measures, which will yield more results in 2019. These and other things emerged from the explanation of the budget for 2019 by Ministers Grapperhaus, Dekker and Harbers. The budget amounts to 12.7 billion euros.
A one-off amount of 100 million euros is to be invested in a Subversion Fund to intensify the fight against crime that undermines our society. Another 10 million euros of structural funding will be available from 2019. The money will mainly be used to improve the integrated approach in all regions.
Mayors will be given more powers to shut down premises, while there will also be a law which facilitates the sharing and processing of data. Authorities will be able to carry out more detailed investigations in order to prevent criminals (or their front men) from misusing government services. There will be greater powers to ban outlaw motorcycle gangs.
Digital security is another key focus for 2019. Under the Coalition Agreement, 95 million euros has been set aside in structural funding for cyber security in order to implement the Netherlands Cyber Security Agenda (NCSA). For example, there will be a cyber security collaboration framework for authorities, businesses and social organisations so they can share information quickly on serious cyber threats. This year, the government is to set aside an additional one-off amount of 30 million euros for enhancing cyber security and tackling cyber crime. From 2019, an additional 10 million euros will be available annually for the implementation of the Computer Crime Act III (Wet Computercriminaliteit III) to improve the efficiency of tackling cyber crime.
The 291 million euros from the Coalition Agreement is to be used to expand the capability of the police and to reinforce the police organisation. For the years 2019–2021, 58 million euros have been reserved to counter the negative impact caused by the outflow of experienced police officers. An additional 15 million euros in 2019 and an additional 38 million euros of structural funds from 2020 have been set aside for a single national emergency response organisation with 10 locations all over the Netherlands.
The fight against terrorism remains high on the agenda. To this end, there will be a greater focus on deradicalisation and reintegration in 2019. This focus is not only due to the expected return of combatants from abroad, but it is also intended to counter the home-grown radicalisation of Dutch citizens.
In addition, the conditions governing conditional release will change. Prisoners will no longer automatically be released after serving two thirds of their sentence. In addition, the period of conditional release will be a maximum of two years. The Coalition Agreement has set aside additional funding for innovative approaches to recidivism. A sum of 15 million euros is available for this purpose.
A state that is based on the rule of law can only be deemed successful if the justice system actually solves the specific problems of and disputes between people. Examples include giving people access to a judge who deals with simple local issues (a ‘buurtrechter’), a judge with whom they can make an appointment (a ‘spreekuurrechter’) or a judge who provides low-cost legal advice to people in debt (a ‘schuldenrechter’), as well as out-of-court support with the help of a mediator. Experimentation with this so-called socially effective justice will start in 2019.
Given the delay within the Quality and Innovation in the Legal System (KEI) programme and the decrease in the number of cases received, the judiciary anticipates a shortfall of 40 million euros. A similar amount has been set aside in the Ministry of Justice and Security’s budget to offset this shortfall. By means of the Quality and Innovation in the Legal System programme, the judiciary is digitising and simplifying the procedures, thereby modernising the way that cases are handled.
Mediation is being developed further with a focus on criminal law, while the Scheiden zonder Schade (Divorce without Damage) programme helps to avoid acrimonious divorces. Upgrading the legal aid system should result in a more affordable system which will guarantee that everyone can access legal aid.
In 2019, implementation of the long-term agenda for victim policy (Meerjarenagenda Slachtofferbeleid) will also be a key focus. Among other things, the legal position of the victim will be strengthened by obliging suspects of violent or sexual offences to be present when their case is being heard. In addition, the Public Prosecutor’s Office and Victim Support Netherlands will provide more active and personal support for victims both before and during the trial. There will also be more possibilities to recover damages, among other things by relying on civil expertise and involving insurers in the handling of claims.
Next year, major steps will be taken to create a streamlined and effective identification and registration process for asylum proceedings. There will also be a reduction in the time needed to ascertain the chances of an asylum application being granted and the type of follow-up procedure required. The Aliens Decree is also due to be amended at the end of 2019, so repeated asylum applications which will clearly be unsuccessful no longer need to be heard in court. In conjunction with other measures, this change should result in faster processing of repeated applications.
Bringing all the partners in the asylum chain under one roof in so-called Joint Alien Locations (Gemeenschappelijke Vreemdelingenlocaties, GVL), such as the one in Ter Apel, should result in faster and more effective collaboration. This situation will also help to reduce the processing times for asylum applications and enable them to be managed more effectively. In addition, agreements are to be concluded with countries of origin over the return of their citizens.
For aliens who do not have the right to stay in the Netherlands, the Ministry of Justice and Security is to set up a network of eight National Alien Facilities (Landelijke Vreemdelingenvoorzieningen, LVVs) in conjunction with local authorities. These LVVs will give aliens whose asylum claim has been rejected temporary accommodation and help them to find a long-term solution.
In 2019, further efforts will be made to modernise nationality law. This process would give new, first-generation immigrants and emigrants more scope to hold multiple nationalities. A consultation will be held on a legislative proposal to this effect in the first quarter of 2019.