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 relevant data are based on "discrimination incidents", which are recorded in the BHV business processing system. Such incidents include words indicating a discriminatory fact or a discriminatory (biased) aspect, or that have been flagged as discrimination (with a specific code) by police officers. Subject experts must have determined that: (1) an utterance or a behaviour can be identified that covers one of the discrimination grounds in the Criminal Code ("race", sex, religion, belief, sexual orientation and disability), including when the discrimination ground cannot be determined; or (2) this occurrence (probably) meets the elements of the articles 137c-g or 429 quarter of the Criminal Code, or the elements of a crime committed with a bias motive (codis). Marking property with swastikas is also considered discrimination and added to the list of discrimination incidents.

Data collection about discrimination by police has two objectives:

  1. Operational application: information at case level has immediate significance in tackling discrimination. Overviews of discrimination incidents are discussed periodically in the Regional Discrimination Consultation (RDO), where police units discuss the handling of discrimination cases with the Public Prosecution Service and the anti-discrimination agencies (ADAs).
  2. To report on the nature and level of the registered incidents and identifiable trends.

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.

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's statistics are not based on incidents or prosecuted cases, but on the number of alleged discrimination facts, which are registered and decided upon based on one of the discrimination articles included in the Criminal Code (137c-g and 429quarter). One discrimination fact can include several grounds of discrimination. Alongside the discrimination facts, the data include 'codis' – facts where a discriminatory aspect has played a role as a motive or where the crime committed has a strong impact.

The Criminal Discrimination Overview report is drafted by the National Centre of Expertise on Discrimination (LECD) within the Public Prosecutor's Office (PPO). The report provides information for the Public Prosecution on the inflow and processing of specific discrimination offences in a particular year.

The number of judgements are based on the number of court cases. One court case can include several discrimination facts which, in turn, can include several discrimination incidents. The judiciary does not report separately on hate crimes, as the motivation recorded by the judge's decision does not always mention the discriminatory aspect. This is due to the fact that the discriminatory aspect does not need to be proven.

The Central Bureau of Statistics conducts crime victimization surveys 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.


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. 

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 Dutch 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. 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 an victim impact statement during proceedings, depending on the seriousness of the criminal act committed against them.