Confiscated criminal assets go to apprenticeship centre in Schiedam
In De Gorzen, a neighbourhood in the city of Schiedam, an apprenticeship centre for young people is being set up with the help of confiscated criminal assets.
This is the first project initiated by the government based on the commitment made in the Coalition Agreement to more frequently invest funds seized from criminals back into the neighbourhoods where those criminals were active. Thanks to the cooperation between the Public Prosecution Service and the Central Government Real Estate Agency, on the one hand, and the Ministries of Justice and Security, Finance, and Social Affairs and Employment, on the other, it was decided that the proceeds from a number of seized properties would this time be invested in improving the quality of life in the neighbourhood rather than go into the state treasury.
Once the Coalition Agreement was concluded, Minister of Justice and Security Yeşilgöz-Zegerius started working on setting up the social repurposing programme. The Public Prosecution Service had already identified certain suitable buildings, seized from criminals, which could be given a new use or, as in the case of the Schiedam neighbourhood, the proceeds from which could be used in the same neighbourhood. This week, the Municipal Executive of Schiedam gave its approval for the implementation of the social repurposing project together with the Public Prosecution Service and the neighbourhood itself.
‘Criminals cause great damage to our society. What with street violence and shootings, intimidation and explosives deposited into letter boxes, residents sometimes no longer feel safe in their own neighbourhoods. That’s why we are investing heavily in fighting organised crime. If we can give the money seized from criminals, along with all those things they use to show off – from expensive clothes and cars to properties – back to society, then that's even better. One way we do this is by investing the proceeds into making our neighbourhoods more liveable. This is how we show that crime does not pay,’
said Minister Yeşilgöz-Zegerius.
More projects are underway in which seized assets from criminals are being put to public use. This should preferably be done in neighbourhoods that suffer or have suffered due to criminal activities. For example, investments are being made to provide socio-economic opportunities at the local level, which will also help fight subversive crime. Apart from the repurposing of properties such as in Schiedam, this may also include goods confiscated by the government, such as cars, furniture and tools, which are now in storage and can be used in social and/or training projects.
Based on the experience gained from these projects, Minister Yeşilgöz-Zegerius aims to set up a structural scheme, which will make public repurposing easier in the future. It currently takes a lot of time to arrange this separately with all the parties involved each time, because there is no fixed system for this as yet. Initially, a sum of 2 million euros will be set aside for this scheme this year. This will be increased to 5 million euros per year from 2025 onwards.
Chief Public Prosecutor Hillenaar of the Public Prosecutor’s Office of the Rotterdam District Court:
‘In 2017, the Rotterdam Public Prosecution Service handed over a boat seized from drug criminals to the Shipping and Transport College in Rotterdam. Donating confiscated criminal property to society shows everyone that criminals are far from invincible. In Italy, the social repurposing of properties obtained from crime has been an established practice for some time now, and it has been a huge success. I hope the Schiedam project will be emulated in many more places in our country. Crime doesn’t pay, but in this case, an entire neighbourhood in Schiedam will benefit from it!’
In Schiedam, further work is being done with the residents of the De Gorzen neighbourhood to figure out the best way to set up the apprenticeship centre for young people. Several residents have already expressed an interest in working with young people to pass on their skills. The facilities needed for this will be discussed with them.
Mayor Lamers of Schiedam:
‘Crime doesn’t pay. We return the proceeds from criminal possessions to the neighbourhood by investing in our youth. We offer them a place where they can develop themselves under proper supervision. We would like to use the expertise and skills of the neighbourhood residents to give young people better prospects for the future and make them more resilient against criminal temptations.’