Opstelten Supports Local Authorities in the Fight Against Organised Crime

Minister of Security and Justice Opstelten will structurally support local authorities in the fight against organised crime. He announced this today in Eindhoven during a working visit to the Organised Crime Task Force in Brabant. The Minister will allocate nearly eight million euros per year for the so-called administrative approach to organised crime.

The fight against organised crime is one of the key objectives of this Cabinet. The government will not only institute criminal proceedings against criminal organisations, but will also take action through the enforcement of administrative and tax measures. Local authorities will be supported in this endeavour by eleven so-called Regional Expertise and Information Centres (RIECs). Minister Opstelten has decided to finance these RIECs structurally with nearly eight million (7.9 million) euros each year, starting in 2012.

In a letter to the Police Force Managers the Minister clarified his decision as follows: “I believe that the fight against organised crime must be intensified. After all, organised crime constitutes an ever-increasing threat to the integrity of the financial-economic system, and eventually undermines the functioning of democracy. A lot of local, visible crime and nuisance comes from criminal organisations that are not directly visible.”

Via the RIECs, the local authorities will receive assistance in applying the BIBOB regulations, for instance. The RIECs are also in a position to give local authorities more insight into the criminal activities in local communities. Via the administrative approach, the government will create barriers which will make it more difficult for organised crime to mix in with ‘legitimate society’. In this way permits can be refused or revoked.

By cooperating in the Regional Expertise and Information Centres, local authorities and government agencies can join forces in a targeted approach to fight criminal organisations by prosecuting them and taking action through administrative and tax measures. The Task Force in Brabant and also the Emergo project in the Amsterdam Red Light District have already proved this approach to be successful.

For example, during the Minister’s working visit today it was announced that under the direction of the Task Force, a total of 16 million Euros in assets obtained from crime have been reclaimed or confiscated since December 2010. During investigations in Den Bosch, Breda and Veen, a cash amount of 3 million Euros and drugs to a value of 7 million Euros have been confiscated, the tax authorities have taken possession of assets under a warrant of execution to a value of 4 million Euros, and unjustly paid benefits from municipal benefits agencies have been reclaimed or discontinued. In addition, dozens of cannabis nurseries have been put out of operation since December, and also dozens of suspects have been arrested.