City of Utrecht launches new approach to deal with criminal youth groups
The Dutch city of Utrecht has been experimenting with a stricter approach to deal with criminal youth groups. The approach focuses on the leading figures within criminal youth groups. Its starting point is to remove the most important and influential individuals. The leading figures are being dealt with first, after which the focus shifts to the rest of the group.
New approach has 3 levels of intensity
Depending on the severity of crimes or trouble caused by youth groups, the approach has 3 levels of intensity:
- Intensive Approach
- Plus Approach
- Basic Approach
The approaches are explained briefly below.
Intensive Approach: investigate and prosecute
Every year, the police, the municipality and the public prosecutor start criminal investigations into about 2 to 3 youth groups. The main goal of the investigations is to prosecute (leading figures within) these groups. The approach aims to send a clear signal to criminal groups as well as society in general, that causing severe trouble and criminal behavior will not be tolerated.
Plus Approach: deterrence
The Plus Approach is meant to deter individual members of criminal and trouble causing youth groups. By repressing leading figures within the groups, the City of Utrecht wants to make room for other, softer interventions that can deal with less prominent members of the groups.
Basic Approach: troublesome groups
Some youth groups are troublesome rather than outright criminal. They’re often loud and incidentally cause minor trouble such as vandalism. The City aims to deal with these groups by structurally working together with youth workers and the police. It will however remain possible to undertake more serious action against leading figures.
All involved parties will pay extra attention to youth groups. The City mainly focuses on:
- taking the lead on the urban level;
- extra capacity for governing measures such as:
- bans from certain areas (youth groups are not allowed to enter certain areas such as public squares or troubled neighborhoods)
- grouping restrictions (large groups of youngsters are not allowed to stand together)
- more targeted assistance and help for leading figures within youth groups
- increased involvement of neighborhood residents in the search
for solutions to certain problems
More info and contact information can be found in the accompanying document (in Dutch) under ‘Reference Material’.
Commissiebrief gemeente Utrecht | Aanpak jeugdgroepen
19 Apr 2012, pdf, 950KB