Additional measures for dealing with robbery-related crime
The police will make use of quick response teams in order to reduce the number of robberies. In addition, more use will be made of helicopters in order to be able to catch robbers in the act and of innovative measures such as DNA spray. The Public Prosecution Service will make increased use of accelerated criminal proceedings and inform victims of the possibilities of compensation. The business community will invest heavily in the promotion of the use of debit cards (electronic payment) and the implementation of in-house preventative measures in the business sectors. The municipalities play an important role in the coordination of the activities. Shopping street managers and supervisors will focus extra attention on the combating of robbery-related crime.
Furthermore, Minister Hirsch Ballin (Justice) and State Secretary Heemskerk (Economic Affairs) have announced that they will make extra funds available for companies that wish to qualify for a subsidy to implement security measures. These are the main conclusions of the first meeting of the Taskforce Robbery-related Crime as they were presented today by the chairman of the Taskforce, mayor Aboutaleb.
The number of robberies increased in recent years from 2165 in 2007 to 2898 in 2009. For the victims, this form of crime constitutes a drastic and threatening event in their lives. The Cabinet wants to reduce the number of robberies by twenty percent in the period 2008-2010. This means 1000 fewer robberies this year. The object of the Taskforce Robbery-related Crime instituted by the Cabinet is to analyse problems encountered in the combating of robbery-related crime, and to put forward solutions to these problems. The powers of the various organisations and agencies mentioned above are bundled in the taskforce, so that, through consultation, they can deal with robbery-related crime in a coordinated manner. This approach will be implemented through a combination of preventative and repressive measures.
The first initiatives were announced at the first meeting. The police will make use of quick response teams that can be deployed in those areas in which many robberies take place. In cases where organised crime is involved, supra-regional investigation teams will be deployed. The starting point for the police is to increase the chance of catching criminals by facilitating the decisiveness, capacity and force to 'catch them in the act'. The objective in this context is to respond quickly to reports of shopkeepers in order to able to immediately arrest the perpetrator. The use of helicopters, citizen participation such as text message alert, and (mobile) alarm systems can be useful in this respect. Furthermore, the police will create a ‘top 100’ list of nationally-operating robbers that will regularly 'visited'. At the local level, there will be personal supervision of known offenders. There will also be increased use of new technologies such as DNA spray, whereby the robber is sprayed with an invisible spray in which unique characteristics have been processed. There is currently also a system whereby the recordings taken by the security camera installed by the entrepreneur can be transferred to the control room after an alert.
Public Prosecution Service
Robbers generally receive considerable prison sentences. A large majority of robbers receive a prison sentence of more than one year. The Public Prosecution Service therefore disputes the view that robbers get off with a community service order. The loot is often limited, but the punishment is severe. The Public Prosecution Service will furthermore invest in theme hearings, accelerated criminal proceedings and the seizing of criminal proceeds (the ‘Plukze’ measure). Shopkeepers are informed of the possibility of claiming compensation during the criminal proceedings by means of victim meetings. The Public Prosecution Service also has to apply sanctions if convicted persons do not comply with any additional conditions that have been imposed. If the probation and aftercare service establishes that a person involved has violated the conditions, the Public Prosecution Service will immediately demand imprisonment for noncompliance.
The business community invests heavily in preventative measures. This year, work will mainly focus on increasing awareness. Taking measures, such as a safe with a timer, training employees and installing cameras and alarm systems is effective. The Taskforce has set itself the target of reaching tens of thousands of companies with additional information, to be concluded with a national week of security in the autumn. Promoting electronic payment is an absolute key objective. A total of 24 million Euros will be made available for this purpose by Stichting Bevorderen Efficiënt Betalen. Initiatives whereby the entire shopping centres are to work without cash are encouraged. Projects have since started in Almere, Leidsenhage and Horst-aan-de-Maas. As many shopkeepers still do not have electronic payment equipment, 10,000 extra information packages are to be distributed to emphasise the advantages of electronic payment, and there are subsidies available for purchasing electronic payment terminals.
The municipalities play an important role in the coordination of the activities. Shopping street managers and supervisors will focus extra attention on the combating of robbery-related crime. Supervision and aftercare can be organised from Safety Houses, aimed at effecting a behavioural change among offenders. Examples of municipalities providing support to affected shopkeepers should be followed.
The Central Government
In order to encourage the implementation of security measures, Minister of Justice Hirsch Ballin and State Secretary for Economic Affairs Heemskerk will make extra funds available. This concerns an amount of 10 million Euros, which will be made available in 2011 in order to extend the existing Veiligheid Kleine Bedrijven scheme by a year. This amount is supplementary to the 10 million Euros that is available for this scheme in 2010. In addition, Minister Hirsch Ballin will make an amount of 3 million Euros available in 2010 for victims of robbery.