Resource pooling in the fight against mobile gangs

Dutch Retail Association, police and Public Prosecution Service share information to combat organised crime

Minister Ferdinand Grapperhaus (Justice and Security) gave the green light today for more intensive national cooperation in the fight against mobile gangs. The Dutch Retail Association (DHN), the police and the Public Prosecution Service are joining forces to assist business owners in the fight against travelling gangs that often operate internationally. These gangs are responsible for various forms of burglary and theft, such as shoplifting. From now on, information on such crimes will be shared via a warning register.

Shopkeepers, the police and the Public Prosecution Service will contribute to this register by collecting and sharing information, which the police and the Public Prosecution Service can then use for investigations and prosecutions.

Minister Ferdinand Grapperhaus:

'The warning register is a strong first measure introduced by the newly created Mobile Banditry Task Force. It's good that the Dutch Retail Association, the police and the Public Prosecution Service are working together. Through this nationally coordinated approach, we are greatly reducing the likelihood that mobile gangs will strike. In turn, this initiative provides better protection for all retailers, large and small.'

Covenant with Stichting GIO

The integrated approach is set out in a covenant signed by representatives from the police, the Public Prosecution Service and the Dutch Retail Association. As part of the covenant, these parties are also collaborating with Stichting GIO (Shared Information Organisation). This organisation monitors the implementation of a protocol approved by the Dutch Data Protection Authority titled 'Mobile Banditry Warning Register'. The protocol allows data about mobile gangs to be shared on a national level with participating retail businesses. This protocol specifies the conditions under which data on mobile gangs may be shared as well as how the police and the Public Prosecution Service will act on such information. The covenant was signed at MediaMarkt in The Hague, one of the participating retail chains.

Information exchange

'Successful investigation and prosecution begins with collecting and sharing information. With regard to tackling mobile banditry, the GIO covenant marks another solid step forward', says Jet Hoogendijk, Chief Public Prosecutor of the Central Netherlands.

When collecting data, Stichting GIO naturally ensures compliance with current privacy-related and other legislation. Shopkeepers share analysed and bundled information – which they have collected themselves – with the police and the Public Prosecution Service. These parties then assess the information and use it as a basis for making decisions on how to follow up. The police and the Public Prosecution Service only share general information with Stichting GIO, such as the status of an investigation. 'For shopkeepers, it is a huge leap in the right direction that an integrated national approach against mobile gangs is now being put in place. Every year, shopkeepers incur hundreds of millions of euros in damages due to these gangs. Through national cooperation and the sharing of certain data, gangs can be exposed and dealt with sooner, while shopkeepers can also be warned more quickly', explains Bert van Steeg of the Dutch Retailers Association, which plays a leading role in Stichting GIO.

'Organised shoplifting by mobile gangs leads to significant problems and high costs in our society. By working together and properly registering key information, we can identify this form of crime better and earlier on, in turn enabling us to be more effective in our investigations', says Frank Kooiman, Head of the East Brabant Unit of the Regional Information & Communication Service (DRIO).

Mobile Banditry Task Force

Mobile banditry is a phenomenon in which international groups of travelling criminals commit violent offences such as theft, robbery and burglary. A Mobile Banditry Task Force was established in July 2018 with the objective of making the Netherlands unattractive to these gangs by taking a firmer stand against them. Stichting GIO and the warning register are part of this effort. The Task Force comprises the following parties: the Public Prosecution Service, the police, the Association of Netherlands Municipalities (VNG), the Ministry of Justice and Security, the Dutch Retail Association, and the Dutch Association for Transport and Logistics (TLN).