Last year, the police in the region were busier dealing with confused people, less so with burglaries and robberies.
There were just over 2,500 home burglaries. At 116, and 64, respectively, there were also substantially fewer street robberies and robberies. Both these saw a roughly 25% decrease.
These are so-called ‘high-impact crimes’. These crimes were also solved more often in 2020 than in 2019. According to the police, the COVID-19 outbreak is an important reason for the decline.
“Of course, the coronavirus pandemic played a big role,” confirms Police Chief, Wilbert Paulissen. “There were no events and demonstrations and, since spring, less crime.” But, despite the decrease in common crime in the region, there are still concerns.
In 2020, there was an increase in cybercrime. “This is immensely damaging. For citizens, but certainly also for companies.”
The police also had to deal with more people behaving in a confused way. The number rose dramatically – from 6.600 in 2019 to over 9.000 in 2020. The 9,000 incidents don’t mean that there are 9,000 people with troubling behaviour.
The police often have to deal with the same people over and over. It isn’t clear exactly how many people are involved. Also, not all 9,000 cases involve someone with a psychiatric condition.
Sometimes it is a question of someone displaying ‘misunderstood behaviour’. These numbers of incidents have been steadily rising in recent years, according to Paulissen. But last year, again, the corona crisis is to blame.
“During the first intelligent lockdown, many assistance centres for these people were closed. Then we had to deal with considerably more confused people. These people’s daily routines had been turned upside down. They also had nowhere to go.”
Various government agencies are trying to solve this problem. They’re considering, for example, whether other agencies can take care of people with troubling behaviour. This will mean it will no longer, solely, be the police’s responsibility.
Translator: Melinda Walraven