A large and growing group of mayors believe that a radical change in policy is needed to effectively fight organized crime associated with drug trafficking. The first step is the legalization and regulation of the cultivation, sale and use of cannabis. This must be accompanied by a strengthening of the criminal justice chain in order to be able to convict drug criminals effectively and confiscate their criminal assets.
More attention should also be paid to prevention in order to prevent young people from being recruited into drug trafficking. In order to successfully break through criminal careers, the social resilience of vulnerable groups in society must be strengthened.
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That is the view of the mayors Han van Midden (VVD, Roosendaal), Paul Depla (PvdA, Breda) and Koen Schuiling (VVD, Groningen). They are working on a manifesto to get the approach to undermining in the Netherlands prominently back on the agenda of a new cabinet. According to the mayors, the revenue model of drug criminals must be tackled.
The mayors believe that the urgency for tackling organized crime has slowly disappeared after the murder of lawyer Derk Wiersum in 2019. According to them, it is time for the forming parties to take this problem seriously.
The mayors are responsible for public order, but notice that the drug policy in the Netherlands leads to major enforcement problems, which means that there is no capacity for other serious forms of crime such as the exploitation of labor migrants, human trafficking and forced prostitution. The lack of enforcement capacity leads to degradation and thus to conditions that encourage crime. The mayors believe that this self-reinforcing circle must be broken.
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An evaluation report of a series of pilot projects funded with money from the Subversion Fund, money to strengthen the fight against subversive crime, also signals a lack of urgency in tackling organized crime. According to Hans Nelen, professor of criminology at Maastricht University and one of the authors of the evaluation published in May, the fight against organized international drug trafficking is less high on the policy agenda. “Apart from the pandemic, crime fighting has lost out to other major policy themes such as care, climate, education and economic recovery,” says Nelen. He is positive about the integrated approach to undermining in which local authorities play an important role in addition to the police and the judiciary.