2021 Public Prosecution Report: increase in threats, aggression and violence in Dutch society
The COVID-19 crisis and related measures played a role in the large increase in the number of convictions in 2021. The Public Prosecution Report published in March 2021 shows that threats, insults, violence and illegal or violent protesting are among the most prevalent cases. But what do the numbers really show?
Times of crisis often result in increasing societal tensions, with new rules and restrictions on public life. What Dutch society has witnessed over the past few years, however, is more than an increase in the amount of peaceful protests. More threats, violence and abuse directed toward the frontline professionals who serve to protect and preserve our society are a fact, and everything must be done to combat this worrying trend.
The Facts: Public Prosecution Office annual report 2021
The Public Prosecutions annual report of 2021 indicates a worrying increase in several key areas:
1200 suspects of resistance to law enforcement officers.
1048 suspects of physical abuse against law enforcement officers.
220% increase in the amount of public calls for resistance against law enforcement officers and instigation with 254 confirmed cases compared to 111 in 2020 and 43 in 2019.
8% increase of court cases surrounding threats of both law enforcement officers and others. Over 8100 cases were handled in 2021 compared to 7500 cases in 2020.
6% increase of court cases related to verbal abuse compared to 2020, with a 9% increase compared to 20219.
8% increase in the number of actual convictions of the aforementioned criminal acts.
24% increase in the number of 18-21 year olds suspected of verbal abuse, discrimination, assault and instigation.
These numbers show the hard facts. For frontline professionals working in the field, it has become more dangerous, with more abuse directed towards them on a yearly basis. This is an unacceptable rise leading to serious problems in terms of employee safety and satisfaction. This trend is unfortunately present in many countries besides the Netherlands; the U.K., France, Germany, Italy are just few examples.
Many approaches and policies created to address this worrying trend will take a long time to finalise and implement. There will naturally need to be research, evaluation, testing and eventually implementation, which can further be exacerbated by splintered politics and local distinctions in approaches. However a large amount of data on pilots and bodycam trials already exists and is shared between law enforcement organisations. When there is the political will to protect employees immediately, processes can go smoothly and quickly.
Bodycam solutions to combat societal challenges
Bodycam systems have been tried and tested in many countries and for many frontline professions, with needed results. Belgian police officers feel that the bodycam is their ideal support on patrol which can often de-escalate rising tensions, provide factual evidence of what was said and done, and improve police reporting after an incident. Swiss police piloted bodycams for years finding that they help improve interactions with the public and provide an invaluable source of evidence for use in court. French fire brigades use bodycams daily to protect and serve society’s best interests.
These are just some examples of how frontline professionals have experienced daily benefits resulting from the use of bodycams. Users and members of the public find that bodycams increase the safety, and feeling of safety of everyone involved in an interaction. It also provides a useful tool for de-escalation tactics, such as the four step approach used by the Hague’s public transport officials. Lastly, courts in many countries have embraced bodycam systems as the indisputable evidence gathered includes video and audio, GPS location and more. This makes bodycam evidence far more revealing than CCTV footage. Especially concerning conviction rates of insults or verbal threats, bodycams have proven to be very effective. Furthermore, due to the built-in security and privacy compliance features this evidence is accepted worldwide as indisputable, with no access or tampering possible.
In 2022 there is an urgent need to give concrete answers to the growing abuse directed towards many frontline professionals. Bodycam systems have shown their worth in protecting frontline professionals during their daily duties time and again. Now is the time for widespread acceptance and implementation of this needed security and authority tool. To allow those who serve us all through their crucial work to do their job safely, and without risk of any sort of abuse. To protect those that protect us.