Reducing youth crime

Early intervention plays an important role in keeping minors from embarking on a life of crime. Swift and consistent punishment for offences can help reduce the incidence of crime. After serving their sentence, young offenders receive support aimed at preventing re-offending.

Swift justice for young offenders

Young people who commit offences are dealt with as quickly as possible. This is in keeping with people’s sense of justice. Offences committed by minors are covered by juvenile criminal law.

Preventing re-offending by minors

The government is taking the following measures to prevent young offenders from re-offending:

  • Personalised approach

    Every young person is different and deserves support that is specifically tailored to them. For example, an aggressive person can be ordered to attend a course to learn how to cope with and control aggression. The Offending Behaviour Programmes Accreditation Committee (in Dutch) reviews the courses to determine whether they have actually had the desired effect.
  • Training and education programmes

    When a young person is released from young offenders’ institution, he or she needs to reintegrate into society by attending school or university, or finding a job. The training and education programmes provided at the end of the custodial period are intended to help them prepare for this.
  • Proper support and guidance

    Young offenders’ institutions, the Child Protection Board (in Dutch), the Youth Probation Service (in Dutch) and municipalities work together in network and process-related consultative bodies. They arrange shelter, income, education and/or work for young offenders upon release.

Early intervention for children under the age of 12

Children under the age of 12 cannot be prosecuted. The police either speak to their parents or refer them to a youth care office. The courts can take measures when there is a risk that the situation could become unmanageable.

Parents of minors required to attend hearings

When a minor is tried for an offence, the parents or guardians are required to attend the proceedings so that the judge can get a sense of the family situation and the minor concerned. If the parents fail to attend a hearing, the court can issue a warrant to secure their attendance in court. In such cases, the police pick up the parents at home and escort them to court.

Parents are also involved before the trial. The police often talk to the parents and the Child Protection Board also establishes contact with them. The Youth Probation Service contacts them after the pre-trial detention order is lifted.

Tackling problem gangs of youths

Dealing with problem gangs of youths is one of the government’s policy priorities. Its approach is tailored to the specific group and individual members. What works best is a combination of care, punitive, educational and employment measures. The government wants to do more than simply set limits by imposing penalties on youths who have committed a crime. It is also important to offer young people the prospect of work or education. This will keep them from embarking on a life of crime.

The integrated approach designed to tackle gangs of youths at local level is coordinated by the municipality in collaboration with the police, the Public Prosecution Service and the Ministry of Security and Justice.

On the youth and security website you will find a database with examples of how problem gangs of youths are being tackled (in Dutch).