Fewer addicts stealing bikes as crime falls
Property crime in the Netherlands has been falling for years. There are fewer bicycle and car thefts, fewer burglaries, and fewer incidences of pickpocketing. The downward trend has been particularly marked since 2002.
Prime minister Jan Peter Balkenende's government has set itself a target to reduce crime by 25 percent of 2002 figures by 2010, so law and order has featured high on its list of priorities. Nevertheless, the falling crime figures are not purely the result of government policy, according to the conclusions of a recent study commissioned by the Dutch police academy's Police and Science research programme.
The results published Tuesday show that crime figures began falling in the Netherlands in the mid-1990s. However, there has been a similar downward trend in other European countries and in the United States. Given that these countries have not been implementing the same policy on law and order as the Netherlands, it seems unlikely that the reduction in crime is only the fruit of government policy
The government seems to have reaped the benefits of a downward trend, the researchers conclude, but at the same time policy on policing has also contributed to the falling figures.
Initiatives in three key areas have clearly taken effect, says researcher Ben Vollaard. Policing has been made stricter, criminals' chances of facing arrest and punishment have been increased, and frequent offenders have been targeted.
"Frequent offenders, often junkies, sometimes commit thirty offences a day. If they go to prison for two years, the number of offences in the area in which they work can drop considerably."The number of frequently offending drug addicts has also fallen since 1995. Addicts have a low life expectancy, and there are now relatively few new addicts.