Prosecutor worried about excessive violence among young people

Excessive violence among young people in the Netherlands is increasing and that is very worrying, Gerrit van der Burg, chairman of the Board of Procurators General at the Public Prosecution Service (OM), said to the Telegraaf.

“The spiral of violence is actually going up. And that is very worrying,” Van der Burg said. “And that in a corona year, in which crime generally showed a downward trend.”

Figures the OM gave the newspaper showed that the number of young suspects of murder or manslaughter, or attempts thereto, increased significantly last year compared to 2019. The number of underage suspects of these crimes increased by 50 percent to 199 suspects. And the number of young adult suspects up to the age of 21 increased by 38 percent to 226. The number of underage suspects in other serious violent crimes increased by 17 percent to 1,904.

Van der Burg thinks that preventative searches can help reduce the number of violent incidents between young people. “If you find weapons, you also have a good reason to talk to someone,” he said. “You must of course guard against ethnic profiling, but safeguards can be built in all kinds of ways so that the body searches are objective.”

But more than just searches and punishments are needed to address this problem, Van der Burg said to the newspaper. “You must punish. Juvenile suspects must be judged on the wrong behavior. But we cannot solve the problem with criminal law alone. Punishment must be accompanied by help on all fronts.”