Six juvenile offenders institutions to be taken out of service in the years to come

In the years to come six Juvenile Offenders Institutions (JJIs) will have to be taken out of service as a result of the declining influx of juvenile criminals. The measure is necessary to reduce the large-scale vacancy in the institutions and to guarantee the quality of the treatment and guidance of the juvenile offenders at the same time. The costs of the vacancy now amount to about 100 million euros a year. The high vacancy rate in the institutions is caused by a considerable decline in the influx of juvenile criminals since 2005. By just taking the institutions out of service now they can be redeployed if the influx is on the rise again.

This is part of the Capacity Plan for Juvenile Offenders Institutions State Secretary for Security and Justice Teeven sent to the Lower House today. The previous government had promised the Lower House last July to submit proposals for reducing the large-scale vacancy in juvenile offenders institutions. Since 2009 a large number of places in the juvenile offenders institutions are not being used. The current vacancy rate is 45%.

Because of the long-lasting vacancy the quality of the treatment and guidance of juvenile delinquents is at risk. In addition, it is financially unsound to maintain a large number of vacant places. Currently, the costs of these vacant places amount to around 100 million euros a year. This money is badly needed elsewhere to make the Netherlands a safer place. Therefore, the capacity plan proposes measures to reduce the capacity of the juvenile offenders institutions to 800 immediately available places and 150 reserve capacity places. This requires that 6 of the 17 institutions are taken out of use in 2011 and 2012. The institutions will not be closed down, but maintained, so that the places can be put into use again, if the need for capacity increases as a result of the governments’ intended hard approach to juvenile crime.

By putting institutions out of use, more than 1,100 jobs will become redundant in the years to come. Active job counselling must prevent forced redundancies as much as possible, for which purpose placement agencies are being set up. The aim is to offer JJI-employees alternative employment within the wide domain of justice and youth care as much as possible.

In this way their knowledge and experience can also be preserved. Agreements have been reached with the State Secretary for Health, Welfare and Sport about the use of JJI-staff for filling any job vacancies in secure youth care institutions. Agreements will also be reached with the probation and after-care services about the use of JJI-staff.

The vacancy in the juvenile offenders institutions is caused by a sharp decline in the influx of juvenile criminals since 2005. Because the influx of civil-law juvenile delinquents increased in the same period, the occupancy rate of the JJIs has remained the same for a long period of time. As a result of the so-called separation between criminal and civil as from 1 January 2010 juvenile offenders with a civil-law title are no longer placed in JJIs. These young offenders will now exclusively be detained in secure youth care institutions. This has caused a sharp decline in the occupancy rate of the JJIs.

The occupancy rate of the JJIs has now dropped to about 52% on average in October 2010. According to the forecasts of the Research and Documentation Centre (WODC) the vacancy rate will further increase in the years to come to about 850 places in 2013, if the policy remains unchanged. When drawing up the capacity plan, the regional need for JJI places in the coming years has especially been taken into account. This has led to the proposal to put the following locations out of use:

  • Rentray, location Rekken (108 places) as from 1 January 2011;
  • De Doggershoek in Den Helder (140 places) as from 1 March 2011;
  • Den Hey-Acker, location Vught (76 places) as from 1 March 2011;
  • De Hunnerberg, location De Maasberg in Overloon (64 places) as from 1 March 2011;
  • De Heuvelrug, location Overberg (58 places) in the first half of 2012;
  • Avenier, location ‘t Anker in Harreveld (96 places) in the first half of 2012.

In addition, most of the new development of Teylingereind in Sassenheim (118 places) will not be used as JJI capacity and the planned expansion of the location Eikenstein in Zeist by 16 places has been cancelled. When drawing up the capacity plan, the possibility of giving JJI locations an alternative destination was also examined. It was agreed with the State Secretary for Health, Welfare and Sport that part of the new development of Teylingereind (48 places) will be used as a secure youth care institution. Furthermore, the Rentray Rekken location will probably be converted into a home for the treatment of persons with mild mental retardation. The aim is to offer a large part of the current staff employment in the new institution. In addition, the State Secretary will investigate the possibility of using the De Maasberg location of the Hunnerberg for the detention or reception of unaccompanied minor asylum seekers. The locations Overberg and ‘t Anker will continue to be used as secure youth care institutions until the end of 2011.