Investigation: the approach to juvenile crime has improved

The approach to juvenile crime of recent years seems to be bearing fruit. Juveniles are punished more quickly, and there is greater focus on the risk factors among juveniles that increase the risk of recidivism. The safety in correctional institutions for juveniles has improved significantly. Juveniles commit fewer serious crimes and recidivism shows a slight decrease after years of increase. This is evident from the Juveniles Sanctions Policy Assessment sent to the Lower House by Minister of Justice Hirsch Ballin. The Minister argues devoting extra attention in the times to come to effectiveness of fines and community service orders.

Juvenile sanctions, in addition to prevention and aftercare, are part of the instruments to combat juvenile crime. The Juvenile Sanctions Policy Assessment offers insight into the policy measures that have been implemented in this field in the past six years, the policy theories that form the basis thereof and the effects of the policy.

The implementation of juvenile sanctions has improved significantly as a result of a project-based approach and a close collaboration between the various co-operating organisations. Backlogs have been cleared up. The implementation of punishments and measures is geared towards the problems of the juvenile to the fullest extent possible. This will reduce the chance of recidivism. More and more effective behavioural interventions are becoming available which have received recognition from the Recognition Committee of Judicial Behavioural Interventions of the Ministry of Justice. 17 programmes have so far been recognised, three of which provisionally. Less effective programmes have been changed or even abolished. Numerous measures have been implemented in the correctional institutions for juvenile offenders in order to improve safety. Consequently, none of the institutions are any longer under intensive supervision of the Inspection. This quality improvement is guaranteed in the legislative proposal that regulates the amendments of the Youth Custodial Institutions (Framework) Act, which is currently before the Upper House.

The Policy Assessment has established that many resources are used for the benefit of a small group of juvenile delinquents, with the object of preventing these juveniles from sliding (further) into serious crime. A light sanction is sufficient for a large part of these juveniles. The majority of the juveniles receive a Halt settlement, fine or a community service order. The effects on recidivism figures are considerable as it concerns large numbers of punishments. The effectiveness of Halt settlements has since been assessed and adjusted effective as of 1 January 2010. Minister Hirsch Ballin argues in favour of also devoting extra attention to community service orders and fines. "Although we are on the right way, there is still much to be done," according to the Minister.