Five hundred rape and assault cases are on the shelf at the Central Netherlands police. Due to a shortage of personnel at the vice squad, things continue to pile up. Some victims would have become a victim ‘for the second time’ after a report.
This is what the Utrecht vice detective Frans van Kesteren writes in a striking cry for help which he posted on LinkedIn on Wednesday. The whistleblower says he is frustrated by the failing approach to leave the police. He calls his employer “a sick organization”. In his message, he expresses support for victims of sexual offenses who are left out in the cold due to inadequate police action. “Hold on! One day justice will come for your business. I feel sorry for you!”
Spokesperson Wim Hoonhout of the Utrecht police confirms the large backlog of the vice squad. According to him, it concerns “a substantial number of sex offenses of several hundred”.
The spokesperson says that “the available capacity in relation to the amount of sexual offenses is insufficient. That is why we are taking substantial measures in the very short term, together with the Public Prosecution Service, to turn this around, precisely in the interest of victims who benefit from an adequate and rapid handling of their case”. The vice team will be strengthened with 24 FTE from 13 September, he says. The department now consists of 65 people.
Letter of resignation
When asked, Van Kesteren said he posted his message on social media out of frustration with the way he was treated by the police. He received his letter of resignation yesterday. He said he was not accepted within the police because of his homosexual orientation. “I am a flamboyant man and that is not accepted by the older white, straight, middle-aged men who are on duty in the police force. I felt that in every fiber of my body.”
Commenting on his dismissal complaint, the police spokesperson says: “His dismissal is based on a long trajectory of functioning and the aspect of sexual orientation has played no role at all.”
Van Kesteren says that there are “extremely many things” on the shelf in Utrecht. “We only produce figures so that we can give the impression that work is being done well. Reports of sexual offenses are usually recorded within seven days as required, but after that they disappear in the closet. And then it can easily take two years before a case is also investigated.”
Backlogs in the processing of sexual abuse reports are certainly not only an issue in the Central Netherlands region, says the chairman of the Dutch Police Association Jan Struijs. “It is a problem all over the country. For years, vice detectives and various other agencies have been drawing attention to this problem. It concerns too few people for investigating rape cases, but also for tackling child pornography or human trafficking. Victims are the victims,” says Struijs.
The number of sexual victims who do not contact the police is high, according to Struijs, aid agencies know on the basis of their experiences. Their assessment is endorsed by investigative bodies. Struijs refers to research by the Scientific Research and Documentation Center which shows that only 11 percent of people who are victims of sexual violence report this to the police.
There are approximately 12,000 detectives in the Netherlands. Of these, approximately 690 are employed in the sex industry and child pornography. For serious sexual offenses cases, a certified vice detective must interrogate the victim, perpetrator or witness.