Prevention with Authority (Preventie met Gezag) is the name of Rotterdam's current offensive against youth crime. Since 2022, Rotterdam receives over €10 million per year from the State to combat youth crime. That amount is intended for Prevention; preventing young people from going onto the criminal path, and for Authority; nipping criminal careers in the bud. About 50 professionals will be added to expand and strengthen Rotterdam's offensive against youth crime in Zuid and Delfshaven.
Most Rotterdam youths are doing well, but between 3 and 4 percent of 12- to 22-year-olds are suspected of a criminal offense. There are about 22,000 vulnerable youth in the city who are struggling at home, not in school or unemployed. Nearly 14,000 of Rotterdam's 84,000 youth grow up in a vulnerable family situation. Almost 17 percent of children (under 18) grow up impoverished, and 9 percent (18-23) say they have been victims of domestic violence. Research conducted by the Rotterdam Court of Audit shows that the socio-emotional health of these Rotterdam youth is worrisome.
Juvenile crime has declined over the past decade, but has become more violent. There is a worrying trend: brutal violence by increasingly younger minors. The proportion of (young) minors, girls and women who engage in criminal activity and use (excessive) violence is increasing. In 2021, 400 young people between the ages of 12 and 26 were suspected of possessing, trafficking and manufacturing drugs. More and more criminal activity is taking place at the port, where drug pickers are also active. There is also a shift to online and cyber crime.
Mayor Aboutaleb: “We are most concerned about young people growing up in poverty and an unsafe home situation. Children who do not get a good example from anyone. With this extra money, we can reach young people and their families even better and help them with their behavioral and parenting problems. Ideally, I would like to place the most vulnerable young people, who also have an intellectual disability or disorder, in a care program with more coercion. They do not overlook the consequences of wrong choices and are an easy target for criminals. We need to protect them from that. I will certainly be discussing that with the minister.”
The City of Rotterdam is already working with all kinds of partners in the criminal justice and care chain to reduce youth crime, with a good balance between repression and prevention. The aforementioned concerns and trends not only require signaling, restricting or punishing, but also making young people resilient and offering them perspective. This starts in elementary school by teaching children social behavior. In secondary school, young people are made resilient against the temptation of (drug) criminals. At Zuid, young people aged 18 and over without a job, diploma or income receive practical training from city stewards to get their lives back on track. Prevention Intervention Teams support vulnerable families with parenting, (mental) health and financial problems.
The Ministry of Justice and Security has structurally made €82 million available for Prevention with Authority, as part of the national program Liveability and Safety. Rotterdam submitted the application together with Police, Public Prosecution, Rotterdam District Court, (youth) probation, youth work, HALT, national program Rotterdam-South, Regional Information and Expertise Center, Safety Alliance Rijnmond Region, Youth Protection Rotterdam-Rijnmond and the Child Protection Council. From their tasks and responsibilities, all partners are mapping the risks of (online) youth and street culture in order to strengthen operational deployment and work more proactively.