Crime in Amsterdam still below pre-pandemic levels despite 17% increase

The police registered a 17 percent increase in crime in the Amsterdam region last year, but the number of crimes is not yet as high as before the coronavirus pandemic. The mayor of Amsterdam, the chief public prosecutor for the district, and the local police chief shared crime statistics on Wednesday. Tackling organized crime remains one of the biggest challenges for Amsterdam, wrote Mayor Femke Halsema on their behalf in a letter to city council. There are also concerns about the proportion of young people involved in crime, a rate which has continued to grow faster and faster.

In 2022, the Amsterdam police saw about a hundred attacks with explosives on homes and businesses. A considerable number, according to the police in the overview of annual trends. There have already been 20 so far this year. Hospitality businesses in particular were targeted, but also homes. These types of attacks often stem from conflicts in organized drug crime. Furthermore, 2022 was a record year for large cocaine seizures in the port area of ​​Amsterdam, with four busts totaling over 1,500 kilograms.

The chance of being caught when setting off explosions or shooting guns at a property remains relatively small. “There is an uneasiness in the investigation,” explained Amsterdam Police Chief Frank Paauw. He referred to victims who themselves participate in the criminal underworld, and therefore do not like to talk about who may or may not be targeting them.

One of the measures against this is the temporary or permanent closure of homes and buildings that have been attacked. “That never happens haphazardly,” said Halsema. She is in favor of continuing with this process, although many businesses have called it an unfair consequence.

Last year there were 84,793 registered criminal offenses in the Amsterdam-Amstelland area, up from 72,538 in 2021. There were 89,261 crimes in 2019, the last year before the coronavirus pandemic. The number of sex crimes known to the police increased by 24 percent. This increase seems to be related to the news about The Voice of Holland, Halsema wrote. Victims seem more willing to go to the police because of the public discussion that followed revelations about sexually transgressive behavior behind the scenes of the television program.

Organized drug crime is still visible in Amsterdam and has a major impact on safety, according to Halsema. She said that drug crime can no longer be considered as something that happens far away from Amsterdammer’s daily lives. She said that threats are no longer aimed only at people involved in crime. As an example, the mayor cited the threat and increased security for Princess Amalia and Ferd Grapperhaus, the former Minister of Justice and Security.

Minors are responsible for a large part of the nuisance and disturbances, and commit a large part of the muggings and robberies, Halsema wrote. Young people are also involved in drug crime. “Every year they start younger and every year they seem to develop faster into serious crime,” said Halsema in an explanation. She called it a worrying trend that children from the age of ten are sometimes offered free snus with the aim of recruiting them for criminal activities.

Snus is an addictive oral product either sold as sweetened nicotine without tobacco or as flavored tobacco. Children then become indebted to someone over the snus and can be forced to carry out criminal assignments. Halsema said she wants to protect young people from entering a life of crime, but said it is difficult to compete with serious drug criminals who offer large sums of money.

Reporting by ANP

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