Growing Burgernet Enhances the Safety of Citizens

As at mid-January 2011 the Burgernet network, a joint initiative of citizens, municipal authorities and the police to enhance the safety in residential and business areas, covers 64 municipalities divided over 9 police regions. Nationwide, Burgernet has nearly 200,000 participants. According to Minister of Security and Justice Opstelten this means that municipal authorities and the police are increasingly responding to the wish of citizens to make an active contribution to a safer community.

Increased chances of catching offenders red-handed

Involving citizens in the safety of their community clearly increases the chances of catching suspects or finding missing persons. Bryan Rookhuijzen, Chief of Police of North Limburg and Chairman of the Burgernet Steering Group: “If we can improve our chances of catching offenders red-handed, the chances of solving crimes increase considerably. Based on direct information of participants the police could successfully complete a Burgernet action in on average 10% of the cases. The greater the number of Burgernet participants, the greater the chance that municipal authorities, police and citizens track down the wanted person in a joint effort, thereby increasing the safety of the community.”

One million participants in 150 municipalities

In January Echt-Susteren joined the network as the fiftieth Burgernet municipality. Peter Rehwinkel, Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Burgernet: “The object was to have Burgernet established in at least 50 municipalities by the end of 2011 and to incorporate the SMS Alert initiative. The fact that we have already reached our target of 64 municipalities and 200,000 participants nationwide shows how committed municipal authorities, police and citizens are. And the number is still increasing - we are now aiming for one million participants in 150 municipalities in 2012. In this way the Burgernet participants also give out a signal to all municipalities – they really want to make an active contribution to improving safety and certainly do not think that safety is just the responsibility of the municipal authorities and the police. On the contrary, they want to work together with the authorities to see to it that the residents and children in their communities can live, work and recreate safely again. Burgernet offers the authorities a concrete solution to increase civic participation and gives citizens the chance to participate.”

One alerting family platform

By the end of 2011 Burgernet will have been established in so many municipalities that the network has nationwide coverage. Burgernet is being involved in time-critical incidents, such as house burglaries, muggings, robberies and missing persons, and is also used increasingly for non-time-critical actions (prevention, supplementary door-to-door inquiries by criminal investigators). The long-term goal is to develop Burgernet into a coordinating alerting service that can also be used by the fire brigade or the GHOR (regional medical emergency organisation). Rookhuijzen: “It was agreed that SMS Alert will be incorporated in Burgernet. This integration of SMS Alert should result in the coherent provision of services by the Dutch police under the name of Burgernet. Therefore, we support the Minister's aim to establish a uniform Alerting Family platform, in which, for example, Amber Alert will also be included.”