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Forty Years of Crime Prevention in the Dutch Polder (From Crime Prevention Policies in Comparative Perspective, P 130-152, 2009, Adam Crawford, ed. - See NCJ-229306)

NCJ Number
Jan J.M. Van Dijk; Jaap De Waard
Date Published
23 pages
This chapter provides an insider's account of Dutch developments in crime prevention.
The approaches taken by the Dutch in their combination of situational and social prevention, as well as technological and human interventions are outlined in this chapter. A central theme within crime prevention initiatives focuses on strengthening semi-formal social control and human surveillance in public and semi-public urban spaces. The best known example has been the "city guards" initiative, which subsequently influenced developments in other countries including the United Kingdom. Besides offender-oriented projects, the Dutch also implemented significant victim-focused programs, putting significant energies into public-private partnerships between government departments and the business sector, often with a short-term situational focus. Over time, the initial central top-down strategy has been replaced by greater autonomy for local municipalities. The strategy for implementing crime prevention in the Netherlands is reported to be relatively unique in its reliance on non-statutory collaboration structures. The effectiveness of the local partnerships is facilitated by regular coordination meeting between key local partners, mayors, chiefs of police, and chief prosecutors. The business sector participates within this framework because of the Dutch cultural tradition of the Polder, a practice of pragmatic consensus decisionmaking in economic and public life. Rather than tolerance, the Dutch approach is marked by pragmatism, rooted more in identifying and evaluating what works and drawing on an array of preventive techniques than starting from any fixed ideological premise. This has provided the basis not only for significant experimentation and lesson learning, but also facilitated successful implementation of crime prevention strategies and partnership infrastructures. Tables, figures, notes, and references