Victims in the Netherlands

Victims in the Netherlands

1. Groups Most Victimized By Crime.

Since 1980, a national victimization survey
has been conducted in the Netherlands every 2
years. A general pattern has emerged concerning
victimization rates. Young people are at greater
risk of victimization of bicycle theft, threat and
assault than are the elderly. Young females are at
greater risk of sexual assault than young males,
whereby young males are at greater risk of being
threatened. (Eijken, 1992; National Victimization
Survey, 1993)
A victimization study conducted in the cities
of Amsterdam and Rotterdam looked at victimization
among foreigners (Turkish, Morroccan and
Surinamese) and compared these results to a
national survey of Dutch crime victims. The
results indicate that the foreign population had a
higher overall victimization rate than the Dutch
sample. That is, 68% of the foreign population
sample had been victimized compared to 47% of the
Dutch sample. The discrepancy in victimization
rates held for both property and violent crimes.
Sixty percent of the foreign population sample
were victims of property crimes as opposed to 43%
of the Dutch sample and 21% of the foreign sample
were victims of violent crimes as opposed to 9% of
the Dutch sample. (Ministry of Internal Affairs,
1993: 105)

2. Victims’ Assistance Agencies.

The Ministry of Justice, through the National
Victim Support Organization, subsidizes local
victim support programs, called Victim Support
Bureaus (Buro’s Slachtofferhulp). These bureaus
provide assistance to victims of crime and traffic
accidents. Volunteers and paid professionals
provide financial, material, psychological, and
emotional assistance to victims of crime. There
are a total of 67 programs nationwide. In 1990,
the largest percentage of referrals to the Bureaus
came from the police or justice system. A
separate foundation, the Victim Assistance Fund
(Hulpverlening aan Slachtoffers or HAS fonds) also
provides material assistance to individuals,
businesses and institutions victimized by crime.
(de Beer, 1992: 173-174).

3. Role of Victim in Prosecution and Sentencing.

The role of the victim in the criminal
justice system is limited to that of the witness
or informer in the pretrial phase. However, the
victim does have limited power to initiate
criminal proceedings against an offender. If the
police deal with a case informally, the victim can
file a complaint with the public prosecutor’s
office to review the police decision. If the case
is disposed of informally at the prosecutorial
level, the victim (or any other person with a
direct interest in the prosecution of the case)
may file a written complaint with the Court of
Appeal. If the court feels the prosecutor erred
in dismissing the case, or misused his power of
discretion, the court may order the prosecutor
to initiate prosecution. However, court ordered
prosecutions are rare. (Tak, 1993; 29).
The victim does not have a right to be heard
at the trial, to appeal a decision or to private
prosecution. However, the victim does have the
right to seek compensation from the offender and
may present a private lawyer for this purpose.
The state does not provide the victim with legal
assistance in this matter. (Tak, 1993; 30).

4. Victims’ Rights Legislation.

The Criminal Injuries Compensation Fund Act,
created in 1975, serves to compensate victims of
violent crimes resulting in bodily injuries.
Compensation may extend up to 25,000 guilders for
material losses and 10,000 guilders for immaterial
losses. Decisions concerning claims are made by a
national committee whose decision may be appealed
to the Court of Appeals in the Hague. (Tak, 1993;
A “victim support tax” is under
consideration, as of December 1993, by the
Minister of Justice. The tax would levy a 5%
surcharge on all offenders on fines and out-of-
court settlements. (Netherlands Ministry of
Justice, 1990b: 72; de Beer, 1993).

Note: this work was completed in 1993


See Also

  • Criminal Justice
  • Legal System
  • Criminology
  • Dutch Criminal Justice System

Further Reading

  • Cole, George F., S. J. Frankowski, and M. G. Gertz, (1987) Major Criminal Justice Systems. Beverly Hills: Sage.
  • David, R. and J. E. Brierley (1968) Major Legal Systems of the World Today. London: Free Press.
  • Fairchild, E. (1993), Comparative criminal justice systems. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.
  • Feeley, Malcolm M. (1973), “Two models of the criminal justice system”. Law and Society Review, 7(3): 407-425.

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