Shared responsibility in tackling crime


An interwoven society calls for a new 'contract' between the public sector, businesses and citizens

To strengthen security, the coalition agreement reserves an increasing structural one billion euros for various goals, such as combating subversion and strengthening the police organisation, the prevention approach, the intelligence services and the entire judicial chain. The approach to subversive crime has been given a prominent place. The government continues along the same path - including the Code of Criminal Procedure, the surveillance and protection system and the neighbourhood approach - but apparently does not focus on creating barriers or breaking through criminal processes. Prevention is aimed purely at preventing young offenders from joining, and not at breaking through the modus operandi (the practices and networks in which subversive crime thrives). This is a missed opportunity, according to PwC experts George Alders, Daniel de Jager and Remco van Mosel. Also, the approach to crime seems to lie mainly with judicial partners. And this, while the main theme - undermining - would benefit from a joint approach, together with society and the business community.

Fundamental change in our approach to security

Internal and external security are deeply interlinked. Global events have national and local effects, and vice versa. This requires a fundamental change in the approach to security. We see that the subject of security is now on the agenda of more Ministries than Justice & Security and Defence alone. And if that isn’t yet the case, it should be. Consider, for instance, the Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (external security), the Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations (information provision and democracy), the Ministry of Economic Affairs (intellectual property and the challenges associated with technology), the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality (food safety) and the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport (preventing and combating pandemics). More attention should be paid to the coherence and alignment between them.

Connection instead of hardening

The coalition agreement focuses on socially effective justice, both preventive and repressive and with a view to the organisations in both the investigation and prosecution chain and the execution chain. This is positive, because society benefits from connection rather than hardening. The government is lowering court fees and investing in social advocacy and subsidised legal aid in order to lower the threshold for access to justice.

The important role of businesses and citizens

But security has long since ceased to be a matter for the government alone. When it comes to creating security, it is desirable for government, businesses and citizens to be interwoven. We have previously written that a safe society calls for intensive cooperation between parties when it comes to crime, both at local and at national and international level. Not only do public organisations have to cooperate with each other in preventing, fighting and controlling crime: they also need to seek cooperation with private parties more than ever before.

The approach to crime benefits from public-public cooperation (socially effective administration of justice) and public-private cooperation (creating barriers to criminal processes) on the basis of the social (network) task. In addition to severely cracking down on companies that 'facilitate' crime where necessary, we would advise the government to seek cooperation to see what is needed to remove those companies from that position. Businesses that are sympathetic to tackling crime need public partners for an effective approach.

New working methods

Various partnerships between public and private parties have already emerged over the past ten years. The police and IT companies share knowledge and expertise to combat cybercrime, and the major banks have joined forces with the police and the Public Prosecution Service to tackle money laundering and terrorist financing. The Ministry of Defence is also increasingly working with private parties to ensure that supply chains are resilient and systems are deployable.

This 'networked’ society does however need a more 'modern' HR policy on the part of the government bodies involved. Specific tasks will be outsourced more often to the private sector in the future. These bodies could, for example, consider forms of dual or shared employment practice. Fortunately, we are seeing a rise in the opportunities for lateral entry to the National Police and Defence. Those organisations target cyber specialists and forensic investigators who are exempted from the classic career path. Other ministries still have work to do in this area.

Tackling structural capacity shortages

The government wants to counter the structural capacity shortages, which judicial partners and the judiciary have been struggling with for a long time, with substantial investments in the justice and security chain, from community policing and criminal investigation to the judiciary, the Public Prosecution Service, the prison system and probation. Only limited attention is paid to local cooperation and the capacity that this requires. This raises the question of how the new cabinet views this structural problem. The success of the approach also depends on how it is worked out. Financing cases based on numbers may be predictable, but it does not do justice to the complexity. There will always be unintended side effects of such financing systems.

Time for a new social contract

For a successful approach to crime, not only the government, but also (large) companies and citizens must take responsibility. The new government will have to effectively organise this aspect across all departments and make sure that the right people are involved in health, food, IT, energy, water, street crime, cybercrime and territorial security. It will have to involve private parties and citizens' initiatives in this. With this 'new social contract', it is hoped that partnerships will emerge that protect the security of us all.

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Contact us

George Alders

George Alders

Director, Global Government Security Sector Leader, PwC Netherlands

Tel: +31 (0)63 080 65 40

Daniel de Jager

Daniel de Jager

Client Lead Partner, Ministerie van Defensie, PwC Netherlands

Tel: +31 (0)65 575 87 57

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