Sharp rise in sex crime reports; Hundreds of victims waiting months for investigation

The police received 15,500 reports of sex crimes like rape, sexual assault, incest, child sex abuse, and grooming in 2022. That is a sharp increase compared to the 12,000 reports in 2020. The number of charges pressed increased from 2,900 to 3,400 in that time, AD reports.

Due to the significant increase in reports, hundreds of cases have to wait months before the police have the capacity to investigate. Currently, 856 victims have been waiting for more than six months.

The police’s sex crime department is on schedule to recruit and train more detectives, for which the government made 12.5 million euros extra available in recent years. “But if we get 30 percent more cases and 8 percent more employees, then it is clear to everyone where the problem is,” Lidewijde van Lier, a sex crime expert at the police, said to the newspaper.

According to Van Lier, the police are working hard on an action plan to help sex crime victims faster and better. For example, they’re looking more critically at victims’ needs and which cases are promising for prosecution and which are not. “In some cases, you know that even if we put 500 detectives on it, it will not lead to prosecution. For example, because it happened too long ago or there are no evidence and traces. Victims usually understand that, but we can do everything possible to help them further.”

Criminal law is not always the best solution, Van Lier said. The police are, therefore, increasing cooperation with aid organizations like Victim Support and the Center for Sexual Violence. “Suspects sometimes turn into monsters in the minds of victims. It can help to restore contact, talk about it, and take the first steps to give it a place,” Van Lier said.

According to the police, the sexually transgressive behavior scandal at the talent show The Voice of Holland played a role in the increase in sex crime reports. Van Lier does not expect the boom in reports to be temporary. The voice has opened many people’s eyes to what is not normal or okay. That’s wonderful, she said. “But our concern is that this number is the new norm.”

The new sex crime law, which makes having sex without explicit consent a criminal offense, that takes effect next year will also lead to more reports, Van Lier expects. “But people have to realize that this is no guarantee that a provable criminal case will come out of it. Sometimes the solution lies in offering help. We really need to work more closely with victim lawyers and social organizations.” Van Lier stressed that this should not discourage victims from reporting a sex crime.

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