Minister Intensifies Fight Against Robbery

Minister of Security and Justice Opstelten is intensifying the fight against robbery. The number of sentenced robbers must be doubled in the next four years and the Public Prosecution Service will demand heavier sentences. These measures must ensure that the number of robberies will decrease to 1,900 per year. Minister Opstelten announced this in response to the “Robbery in the Netherlands” report he received today.

“Robberies have an enormous impact and we simply cannot allow this situation to continue,” says Minister Opstelten. “In high crime areas we must act more forcefully to catch robbers red-handed. I will see to that, together with the police and the Public Prosecution Service.”

The number of perpetrators sentenced must be doubled in the next four years from 16% to 32% in 2015. This requires an increase of the clear-up rate to 40%. The police and the Public Prosecution Service will focus on high-risk groups and locations. In addition, a strong effort will be made to prevent robbery. Safety houses play an important role in this person-focused approach, which will paint an even clearer picture of the robbers. After all, the study shows that robberies are often committed by persons with multiple previous convictions. The number of robberies must be reduced from 2,900 in 2009 to 1,900 per year in 2015 (the level of 2006).

The Public Prosecution Service will demand heavier sentences for suspects of house and company robberies. The Board of Procurators General has adopted a guideline that provides for this. Compared to current practice the sentence demanded for adult robbers will be raised by one year. An adult suspect of a company robbery may expect a sentence of two years, a house robber a sentence of three years. If a gun is used to threaten victims, the sentence demanded will be increased by one year in both cases. If serious bodily harm has been inflicted, the demanded prison sentence is again raised by another year. In case of a repeated offence the penalty will be increased by another 50%. The guideline will become effective on 1 December 2010 and will apply to crimes committed from that date.

Citizens and business owners can also play an important role in preventing robbery and they should take this responsibility. The use of the DNA shower has proved to be successful in Rotterdam. The Minister will extend the successful Business Security Warranty scheme by a couple of years. Under this scheme, business owners work together to improve the safety in their own community. There is also a subsidy scheme (via the Criminal Injuries Compensation Fund) for individuals and companies who take preventive measures after having been robbed. This scheme will also be extended in 2011. Research has shown that first time victims of robbery run a higher risk of falling victim again.

The report presented today concerns a study conducted by Professor C. Fijnaut in cooperation with the IVA research institute in the period from February to July 2010, describing the developments in robbery in the past ten years. The study was conducted in commission of the Anti-Robbery Task Force that was set up in 2009 by the then Minister of Justice.