National frameworks to address hate crime in the Netherlands

This page provides information on the national frameworks to address hate crime in the Netherlands. The information provided here should be viewed alongside data presented on the Netherlands's hate crime report page.

Hate crime recording and data collection

Dutch legislation does not include a definition of hate crime.

The Netherlands Police records hate crimes (and hate speech and other discrimination incidents). The Centre of Expertise Discrimination of the Netherlands Police (ECAD-P) is in charge of data collection.

Data collection about discrimination by police has two objectives:

  1. To improve operational measures to tackle individual cases of discrimination. Police units periodically discuss discrimination cases with the Public Prosecution Service and the anti-discrimination agencies (ADAs) during Regional Discrimination Consultations (RDO).
  2. To report on the nature and level of the registered incidents and identifiable trends.

Data is collected on the following grounds: "race" (including ethnicity, origin, etc.), gender, sexual orientation, religion, disability, belief, and anti-Semitism. The police annually reports on discrimination/hate crimes against transgender persons and Muslims by manually extracting and analysing the data.

Different instruction documents exist on how to record hate crimes.

The police registers – among others - reports, notifications and their own observations of discrimination and hate crimes in the business processing system (BVH). These registrations are uploaded into a consultation system (BVI). Using a keyword list, an automatic search is made for discrimination incidents, including crimes committed with a bias motive. The results are presented in an Excel file. Subject matter experts screen the incidents found in the Excel file for relevance (possible elements of discrimination or hate crime) and categorize them by type of crime and discrimination grounds. The screening results in a discrimination case overview. The regional police units receive such a case overview twice a month. The overviews are also discussed in frequent consultations with the public prosecution service and the anti-discrimination agency's at the municipal level. The case summaries of all units for one year result in the database for the annual discrimination figures report. For this questionnaire, the police select only the hate crime incidents, which are categorized as threats, assault, property damage, and others. 

The annual "Discrimination Figures" report handles the discrimination incidents registered by police and discrimination reported to the ADAs in the Netherlands. The data are supplemented by other data gleaned from the contact point in the Netherlands for discrimination on the internet (MiND) and the Netherlands Institute for Human Rights (CvRM), the national ombudsman and the national ombudsman for children. This report is the outcome of the cooperation between different parties which collect hate crime data. 

The police regularly consult with the public prosecution service and anti-discrimination agencies at the municipal level about discrimination and hate crime cases. The data of the police and the public prosecution service can be used for research purposes, when a formal request is accepted.

In 2019, the police changed their registration of discrimination incidents, discontinuing the previously used distinction between regular acts of discrimination and those targeting employees with public duties (such as police officers). As a result, data from 2018 and onwards cannot be compared. In addition, since 2019 the subcategories of "race" and religion ceased to be registered, meaning that data regarding bias against Roma and Sinti and Muslims are not available for 2019 and onwards.

The Public Prosecution Service reports on all types of criminalized discrimination (hate crimes, hate speech and discrimination offices) in the annual Criminal Discrimination Overview. The National Discrimination Expertise Centre (LECD) is in charge of drafting the annual report.

The Public Prosecution Service's statistics are not based on incidents or prosecuted cases, but on the number of alleged discrimination facts. The Public Prosecution Service reports on hate crimes, hate speech and discrimination offences. Hate speech and discrimination offences are registered and decided upon based on one of the discrimination articles included in the Criminal Code (137c-g and 429quarter). One discrimination offence can include several grounds of discrimination. Alongside alleged hate speech and discrimination offences, the data include reports of hate crimes: alleged criminal offences under ordinary criminal law where a discriminatory aspect has played a role in the motive or inducement to commit the offence. Those alleged offences can also be committed without the discriminatory aspect, in contrast to cases of alleged discrimination. The Public Prosecution Service registers the alleged offences, but one incident can be qualified as more than one alleged offence.

When a case is reported, the public prosecution service has to be alerted of any discriminatory aspects of the case. A discriminatory aspect is registered manually to a case. The overview of cases with a discriminatory aspect is used by the LECD to review the files for evidence of a discriminatory aspect or hate crime. This information is used in the annual criminal discrimination overview. 

The judiciary does not report separately about hate crimes as there is no legal provision to do so. Moreover, judicial decisions do not always mention the discriminatory aspect, which does not need to be proven. Data on judgements are based on the number of court cases. One court case can include several alleged discrimination offences. One incident can qualify as more than one alleged offence, and one alleged offence can lead to more than one different registered discriminatory grounds. 

The Central Bureau of Statistics conducts crime victimization surveys (Veiligheidsmonitor) every two years. These surveys aim to identify the number of people who feel that they have been a victim of a hate crime, and also whether the hate crime was reported to the authorities. This information can provide an indication of the extent of under-reporting and the impact of hate crimes on the victims. The next survey will cover the year 2023.

Hate crime victim support

The Netherlands provides both general victim support and specialized support for victims of hate crime. In accordance with Dutch legislation, special protection measures can be applied to hate crime victims.

There are many organizations providing general and specialized victim support in the Netherlands. The general support providers include Victim Support Netherlands, which supports the victims of crime, traffic accidents, disasters and calamities. It offers legal, financial, social and practical assistance, and provides information on compensation. It also runs a webpage dedicated for victims of discrimination and hate crimes.

The police and prosecution services employ personnel trained on hate crimes. Voluntary and mandatory courses on hate crime are offered to all law enforcement officials. The police actively reaches out to vulnerable communities and special anti-discrimination bureaus. A specific victim support service is provided by the Netherlands police to the LGBTI community in the form of a network of "Pink in Blue" police officers.

A mandatory individual needs assessment procedure is conducted for all crime victims on first contact with the police. In addition, Victim Support Netherlands' (VSN) assessment and protection co-ordinators provide extra information to their teams and act as a source of information on all matters relating to individual needs assessment and the protection of crime victims. Issues relevant for hate crimes are always included in the individual needs assessment when they report a hate crime to the police. The VSN receives the individual needs assessment before coming into contact with the victim, with the aim of monitoring a victim's individual needs in the criminal proceedings. If there are questions about a victim's safety, VSN employees can contact the assessment and protection co-ordinators, who then reach out to the prosecutor's office to apply for more immediate safety measures for the victim.

The victims of bias-motivated crimes are treated as vulnerable and are entitled to special protection measures, including:

  • the use of an address other than their home address in the case file;
  • the possibility to testify anonymously;
  • a hearing by specially trained personnel or in an appropriate room;
  • assistance during the hearing by a lawyer or person of their choosing;
  • the use of audio-visual equipment during a hearing;
  • the possibility of placing a restraining order on the perpetrator;
  • the provision of shelter, home security measures and/or a police escort;
  • mediation to assist in their recovery;
  • the possibility of a non-public hearing in court;
  • the provision of a separate waiting area in court; and
  • measures to prevent the perpetrator from engaging in eye contact with the victim.

There are procedural rights in place specifically for the victims of hate crime and other vulnerable victims. These include the right to be informed about decisions (including the reasons for these decisions), the right not to prosecute or to discontinue prosecution, as well as the right to dismiss or conditionally dismiss a case. In the Netherlands, hate crime victims can deliver a victim impact statement during proceedings, depending on the seriousness of the criminal act committed against them. 

Hate crime capacity building

The Police Academy programme for police officers includes training on the anti-discrimination provisions of the Constitution and Dutch Criminal Law. Periodic training sessions and tests cover how to approach discrimination and raise awareness of prejudice. The police force maintains a Diversity Skills Network to ensure access to knowledge about lifestyles, cultures and issues of special attention in Dutch society. The Police Diversity Skills Network, together with the Public Prosecution Service, further supports, informs and advises police officers and prosecutors on addressing "discriminatory motives". The Expertise Centre for Tackling Discrimination (ECAD-P) serves to (i) train police officers to better recognize and deal with hate crime, (ii) act as a national information and knowledge hub for police, and (iii) ensure that police are trained to tackle discrimination and hate crime.

The Public Prosecution Service (OM) co-operates with the National Discrimination Expertise Centre (LECD). Every public prosecutor's office at a district court is staffed with experts on discrimination and/or at least one prosecutor specializing in discrimination cases. The LECD works with these prosecutors and experts to ensure that discrimination cases are dealt with in the best possible way. The LECD and the discrimination prosecutors at the district courts advise and inform public prosecutors and other relevant staff from the investigation stage right through to the handing down of a judgement by the highest court. In addition, the LECD is engaged in building up, maintaining and organizing expertise on discrimination and disseminating it within the Public Prosecution Service.

The Training and Study Centre for the Judiciary (SSR) is responsible for adequately training employees of the judiciary, including court staff, and the Public Prosecution Service. In partnership with the Council for the Judiciary, the Dutch courts of law and Public Prosecution Service, the SSR trains law graduates and graduated practitioners as judges and public prosecutors. The judicial training programme covers materials related to ethnicity and religion in a mandatory course on "Judgments without Prejudices". The course focuses on racism, including institutional racism, discrimination and inequality in the national and international context. Training on discrimination and inequality is also available to public prosecutors.

The SSR and the LECD have developed an e-learning course on discrimination in the national criminal law, including hate crimes, hate speech, other discrimination offences. Discrimination experts at district court level are required to participate in the e-learning course. All employees of the Public Prosecution Service and the Judiciary have access to the course, but it is not a mandatory part of the general training curriculum.