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Crimewatch for young people?

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Crimewatch for young people?

The Netherlands Police Academy is launching a study on investigative communication among young people. While adults join the police through traditional media like TV's Opsporing Verzocht, or Crimewatch, young people mainly use social media. How can the police get them to help with investigations and report crime? 

The police have long used investigative communications, asking citizens to actively participate in investigations. Opsporing Verzocht is one of the means used by the police for investigative communication. After forty years, this programme is a mainstay of Dutch television. It is also still an effective investigative tool: of the cases covered, almost half are solved. But society is changing. Traditional media is losing ground, especially among young people, to other media forms such as streaming services, Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, and Snapchat. 

New technology and media 

The effectiveness of the old forms of investigative communication may decline in the future. At the same time, new technology and media forms provide opportunities for criminal investigation, such as a social platform and outdoor or internet advertising. The Netherlands Police's national Investigative Communications team asked the Netherlands Police Academy to conduct research on how best to reach and involve young people in criminal investigations. 

Role of young people in crime 

So the media landscape is changing. But forms of online crime are also becoming more common. Young people appear to get into these forms of crime comparatively easily. These days, the police see relatively young perpetrators of PIN fraud, for example. But young people now also play an important role in 'old-fashioned' organised crime. "For example, drug traffickers hire young 'workers' through Telegram groups for violent operations and attacks with explosives. Or for collecting and dealing drugs or driving a getaway car," says researcher Jerôme Lam. 

Getting into crime is fuelled by social media channels and music videos glorifying it. Lam: "That’s why we’re also looking into how the police can use communication to stop criminal behaviour among young people. They will talk about it among themselves anyway. But the willingness to report crime is low; you do not talk to the police. We are therefore considering how the police can break this culture of silence among young people." 

Panel of young people 

The survey consists of a questionnaire sent to a group of 1,500 young people. The researchers are seeking to understand when they are willing to report crime. Or when they want to actively participate in police investigations and hold peers accountable for their criminal behaviour. Hopefully, this will provide practical tools we can use to improve our investigative communication towards this target group. The results are expected to be available in autumn 2023. 

Missing Persons May 

The Netherlands Police are also asking citizens for help in missing persons cases. Every year, tens of thousands of people go missing in the Netherlands. Most only briefly, some for longer periods. For many people left behind, a disappearance feels like a desperate struggle. Any attention paid to missing persons helps. That is why the police draw extra attention to missing persons in the month of May.

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