The effects of corona are diminishing
In recent years, we have seen the crime scene change as a result of corona. During that period, we saw a downward trend in traditional crime such as burglaries, thefts and robberies, partly because more people lived, shopped and worked at home. Cybercrime, which includes both computer hacking and, for example, online fraud or sextortion, increased enormously during the corona period. During the corona period, nuisance from young people was also reported more often.
In 2022, the year in which the corona restrictions were lifted, we see that these effects of corona begin to disappear. For example, both residential burglaries (4% compared to 2021) and street robberies (5% compared to 2021) both increased slightly for the first time last year. However, this figure is still significantly lower than before the corona period. The number of robberies fell by 15% compared to 2021. In 2022, the number of reports of nuisance caused by young people fell sharply, from 23,668 in 2021 to 16,253. The number of cybercrimes showed a slight decrease for the first time. However, there is still an upward trend compared to before corona.
Increase in traffic accidents
In recent years, we have seen a continuous increase in the number of road accidents with injuries. In 2022, this increased again by 21%. This resulted in at least 148 deaths (a 25% increase over 2021). Violence against police officers also increased this year to almost 3000 incidents (more than 2700 in 2021). Another significant increase is the theft of bicycles and mopeds. This is an increase of 40% compared to 2021.
Cybercriminals react to current events
In cybercrime, we see various phenomena that change regularly, where criminals smartly respond to current events, such as demanding back energy compensation. Both young and old are victims. The impact on the victims is often great. Combating cybercrime is a spearhead for the police and the Public Prosecutor’s Office (OM). Worryingly, the average age of suspects is falling. Within the group of cybercrime suspects, the Prosecutor’s Office sees that the proportion of young people up to 23 years of age has increased from 25 percent to 57 percent between 2018 and 2021. Where possible, the Prosecutor’s Office tries to recover the damage.
The police cyber crime team achieved a number of major successes in the past year. In June, the team succeeded in stopping the spread of malicious software (Flubot). This software spread very quickly via a fake SMS from well-known package delivery services. The malware allowed criminals to access the victim’s data. Once in a phone, the contacts were used to further spread the virus. 10,000 victims had already been affected by the time the software was neutralized.
In October, the team was instrumental in an operation against the Deadbolt ransomware group. With ransomware, criminals hold computer files hostage. Victims must pay a ransom to regain access to their files. During a targeted operation, the police managed to obtain more than 150 decryption keys from this ransomware group through a trick of bitcoin payments. With these keys, files such as precious images or administration could be unlocked again without costing the victims money.
Combating subversion priority
By 2022, the effect of undermining organized crime was also visible in the unit. For example, 14 drug laboratories (in 2021 there were 13) were found in different places in the unit. The laboratories were mainly found in the southern part of the East Dutch unit, but the southeastern part of Twente also stands out. The reason for finding labs is diverse and stems from criminal investigations, citizen reports and security incidents. The number of detected dumping of drugs decreased slightly from 36 in 2021 to 32 in 2022. Also an effect was the liquidation of two men in broad daylight in the middle of a full restaurant in Zwolle in March 2022.
This serious organized crime affects our democratic rule of law, and the fight against it is therefore also a priority in 2023. We do this in close cooperation and connection with public and private partners.
In 2022, social unrest resulting in various planned and unplanned protest actions, as well as football matches, put a heavy burden on the capacity of the East Dutch unit. The unit’s contingency units saw action about 183 times with an average of about 31 men deployed. The prosecution was able to quickly bring suspects arrested during the protests against the nitrogen policy to justice. In total, there were 33 suspects in 2022 spread over eleven sessions. Also today, Friday 13 January, three more suspects are facing criminal charges during a protest on 1 December in Zwolle. The right to demonstrate is a great asset, but if there are criminal conditions and/or danger to others, the prosecution will bring charges.
Capacity shortages are still limited
A year ago, the triangle warned of capacity shortages in the grassroots teams that would persist for several years. In 2022, the shortfall turns out to be somewhat smaller than expected. Last year, scenarios where 4 to 6 percent understaffing would occur in the base teams were considered, by 2022 it looks like the shortfall will continue to be limited to around 2%.
In 2022, almost 200 police officers will have joined the base teams. Furthermore, the East Dutch unit will receive 110 new police officers in the coming years on a structural basis from the coalition agreement and the Hermans proposal. This does not mean that the teams immediately feel relief. For example, new police officers must be trained, and the supervision of newcomers will require considerable effort in the near future. Colleagues are also still deployed nationally for surveillance and security. The lack was also felt in the investigation and the entire criminal justice chain. In the past year, work has been done to strengthen and this will be continued in the coming year. The strength of the East Dutch unit is the habit of helping each other to divide the work as best as possible.
Strengthen the connection
Finally, the triangle points to the police doing their job in a society where strongly expressed opinions receive a lot of attention and authority sometimes seems to be under discussion. Therefore, it is now more important than ever to further strengthen the connection with all groups in society and thus continue to build trust in the police. Everyone is equal with the police. It strives for freedom and security to be in balance. In 2023, the police in East Holland also want to contribute to ensuring that all residents can live comfortably together.