No more community service for serious sexual and violent crimes

Minister Opstelten and State Secretary Teeven of the Ministry of Security and Justice want to end the possibility of imposing community service for serious sexual and violent crimes. In their opinion, community service is not an appropriate penalty for such serious crimes, and should be reserved for relatively light offences. The measure is part of the forceful approach to combating serious sexual and violent crimes as advocated by the Minister and the State Secretary.

Sexual and violent crimes are not only very disrupting and traumatic for the victims and their immediate surroundings, especially if the damage inflicted is irreparable, but in a wider sense they also affect the confidence in the legal system and the sense of safety of citizens. Therefore, adequate punishments and measures are necessary to protect society against the perpetrators.

The order goes beyond the legislative proposal submitted to the Lower House in 2009 by the previous government to restrict the imposition of community service in cases of serious sexual and violent crimes. Under that regime a community service order may still be combined with a prison sentence or custodial measure (whether or not conditional). The Minister and the State Secretary now put an end to this and will submit a memorandum of amendment to the Lower House today.

The new legislation will also oblige the Public Prosecution Service to put a sentenced person behind bars, if the imposed community service is not performed at all or not performed properly. At this time the law still provides that the Public Prosecution Service may order the so-called execution of alternative imprisonment. The Minister and the State Secretary, however, are of the opinion that it is not up to the Public Prosecution Service to order an alternative sentence. This tightening of legislation is a result of the new coalition agreement.

If there are exceptional circumstances that justify the sentenced person’s failure to perform his community service, whether properly or at all, he may file a notice of objection to the order of the Public Prosecution Service with the court.