Stern conversations are going to replace cell time as the police are no longer sending youths to jail for first time minor offences.
This new approach was trialled by the Eastern Netherlands Police in 2018 and they said they achieved good results. Instead of throwing kids in jail, the police sat down with the offender and their parents and had a stern talking to about their crime and the repercussions of entering the criminal system. Out of 120 children who were trialled in this new approach, none have reoffended, police tell AD.
Jail time can be a scarring experience
Currently, juvenile criminals undergo the same process as adults when caught for a crime. They are caught and handcuffed by the police, taken to processing centre, searched and then detained in a cell. They must remain in the cell until they have legal representation to accompany them to questioning, which can take hours. Understandably, this can be a traumatic experience for many youths and each year the police question over 30 thousand minors in the Netherlands.
Experts support the change
Marije Jeltes, a lecturer in juvenile law at the University of Leiden tells AD thinks the new approach is a step in the right direction and queries whether any juvenile lawyer would find this step “unwise”.
Jeannette de Vries, the police project leader, say police officers “have trouble keeping children in the cell crying for hours because they have stolen a can of coke or something. That just isn’t right” AD reports.
The new approach will be launch next month in Overijssel and Gelderland and roll out in the rest of the Netherlands after that.