Fighting drug crime requires a neighborhood approach


UITGEEST – The Netherlands is an important link in the global drug trade. The Cabinet recently decided to allocate millions more to municipalities each year to prevent the youthful increase in drug crime. “A good start,” said Hans Butelier, professor of security issues.

“Traditionally, a lot of cannabis is produced in the Netherlands,” says Botellier, who has done a lot of research into disruptive drug crime. More and more synthetic medicines are also being manufactured in pharmaceutical laboratories. In addition, the open infrastructure in the Netherlands, such as the ports, makes it attractive for the drug trade here. This is, of course, undesirable.”

Last year, more than 70,000 kilograms of cocaine were found in the port of Rotterdam, with a street value of 5 billion euros. This is evidenced by the numbers of the so-called Hit and Run Cargo (HARC) team. The big drug money means that undermining has an attractive effect, Botellier says. “For example, it is very normal for young people these days to act as drug smugglers for drug criminals. Handing over a few packages does more than just fill shelves for an entire month.”

Nationwide, police recorded a total of 11,514 drug smuggling offenses last year. In 2020 there was a slightly larger number, i.e. 12669. In the municipality of Uitgeest, two drug trafficking offenses were registered last year. In 2020, there were three.

“There’s a lot of course also well hidden in small-scale buildings or barns,” says farmer Herbert Verblugen. He regularly sees drug crimes in the countryside in Gelderland. “I myself sometimes have people in my garden asking me if there is a place to rent. Then I already know the time now.”

The farmer also regularly sees pollution from dumping drugs in trenches, for example. “The outback is attractive for this kind of practice. Sometimes I see small bags with drug waste, but sometimes I see whole drums.”

wide live approach
Undercutting crime, says Botellier, is best addressed through a broad neighborhood approach. “In neighborhoods with a lot of problems, it’s important to give the people who live there the sense that the government is there to help them and that crime is doing nothing for a good future,” says the professor of security issues. “It is important to show flexibility and another, better future. In Arnhem, for example, this is happening with an educational attack by young working people.”

The government recently decided to provide 82 million euros annually to protect young people from working in crime. A good start, according to Botellier. But we also need to start a social discussion about the normalization of medicines in the Netherlands. Because what do we want with this now? There is a lot of indifference in Dutch society about what we think about drugs.”

Boer Verploegen would like the local government to think carefully about the quality of life in the countryside, with the aim of undermining it. “Farmers are moving away from the countryside, resulting in vacancies. This vacancy is attractive to undercut. We have to sit down together and see how we can keep the countryside livable.”

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