Organised crime under scrutiny 2022

Tackling organised crime requires constant innovation. Confiscating criminals’ money is an alluring prospect: get the money, and you hit them where it hurts. More and more money is being taken away from criminals, but what does that actually mean? According to Arthur Buitenhek (Fiscal Intelligence and Investigation Service), Anita van Dis (Dutch Public Prosecution Service) and Bob Hoogenboom (Nyenrode) – commenting in ‘Vizier op georganiseerde misdaad’ (Organised crime under scrutiny) – it’s not just about the quantity, but also the quality of the cooperation between the various parties going after criminal money.

In ‘Vizier op georganiseerde misdaad’ experts from within the government and from other organisations share their thoughts on how the fight against organised crime is going, their interpretation of what’s happening and what they think needs to be prioritised as we look ahead. The report is a follow-up on the November briefing on organised, subversive crime.

It’s time to face up to what’s happening. Organised crime is a major problem in many places, and the Netherlands is no exception. It’s a monster with many heads, and we need to fight it with everything we have. As the Vizier publication points out, the Netherlands is uniting various forces as part of that fight. We’re working together not just to disrupt organised crime, but to prevent it, to punish the perpetrators and to protect the victims and society as a whole.

The report emphasises that tackling organised crime requires patience. There’s no quick fix, and it’s often difficult to translate results into figures.

Hanne Buis, member of the Board of Directors of Royal Schiphol Group, says:

‘Unfortunately, a campaign against organised crime isn’t the same as a campaign against careless use of fireworks. We can’t look back afterwards and say: look, injuries are down 10% as a result of what we did. But even so, we are giving all we’ve got to help the government fight organised crime. Collaboration is key to this, just as it is in the fight against terrorism. For terrorism, we come up with disaster plans and we adjust them based on the most up to date intelligence of the threat provided by the National Coordinator for Security and Counterterrorism (NCTV) to the airport. It’s about anticipating problems before they occur.’

Wherever possible, the fight against organised crime takes an evidence-based approach and draws on scientific recommendations. But even then, it’s not always clear what will actually work best in practice; plus, the real-world scenario is constantly changing. That’s why the experts quoted in Vizier emphasise the importance of staying flexible, responding to the changing modus operandi of criminals, and continuing to learn from successes and setbacks. Doing so is the only way of continuing to strengthen the response to organised crime and to expand it.

Hanneke Ekelmans, member of the National Police management team, says:

‘We’ve been able to intercept millions of encrypted messages. This enables us to go after criminals much more effectively than in the past. Meanwhile, we’re continuing to research how the criminal world establishes itself in mainstream society, because we can’t rest on our laurels. Tackling organised crime requires constant innovation.’