Crime 2001 in Netherlands

Dutch WODC report on crime and law enforcement shows: rapid increase in number and length of sentences


The last three years have shown a rapid rise in the number of prison sentences imposed, whilst the average term of imprisonment has also risen.

The number of Dutch people who have been victims of a crime has been reasonably stable for the last couple of years. Police were able to solve a significant part of the violent crimes that were actually reported……..In the previous year, the police questioned more than 300 thousand persons who were suspected of a crime, one sixth of whom were still minors. In most cases it concerned offences against property, violent crimes, traffic offences or vandalism.

A quarter of a million criminal cases were registered at the Public Prosecution Office, of which 121,000 criminal cases were dealt with by the public prosecution’s office, for instance, through an out-of-court settlement.

The court handled 117,000 criminal cases and in most of these cases the suspect was found guilty and a sanction imposed. Sanctions that were imposed most frequently were fines, prison sentences, community service orders and driving disqualifications.

Rise in sentences

The number of non-suspended prison sentences imposed in the first instance rose from 27,500 to 33,600 in the last couple of years.

Due to an increase in the average term of imprisonment, the total number of actual detention years rose from 9,800 to 13,200 – an increase of 36%. Half this increase can be attributed to crimes under the Opium Act. The number of community service orders has also risen rapidly during the same period. In 2000, the court imposed 20,800 community service orders (in the first instance), compared to 27,100 community service orders in 2002. For that same period, there was a doubling of the number of community service orders agreed to by the public prosecutor and the suspect on the basis of a so-called transaction model. As a result, the total number of community service orders for 2002 was almost 40,000.

A large proportion of the reported violent crimes was solved. In 2002, for instance, the police drew up 109,000 official reports in relation to violent crimes and solved 53,000 violent crimes. In comparison, the number of property offences and vandalism cases that were solved lag behind considerably. In all, the police drew up more than 1.4 million official reports and solved more than 250,000 crimes in 2002.


The number of Dutch people that were the victim of a crime has been reasonably stable for some years. According to recent victim surveys by the CBS, a quarter of all Dutch inhabitants who are 15 years or older fall victim to one or more crimes each year. This boils down to more than three million victims per year. About 13% will fall victim to one or more types of property offences, 12% to vandalism and 6% to one or more violent crimes. In the separate crime category, most people are victims of car vandalism and bicycle theft.

Country comparison

The Netherlands imposed more sentences than surrounding countries and these sentences were more often unconditional. Dutch people have a bigger chance of falling victim to a crime. Nearly half of the offences committed were in relation to bicycle theft and vandalism of cars. An explanation for this provides the specific opportunity factor, e.g. the large number of bicycles, and the high level of urbanisation. As far as the offences against persons are concerned, such as robbery and assault, the Netherlands scores average”.


12 November 2003- WODC