Criminologist denounces plan for stop and search techniques in Nijmegen

The municipality of Nijmegen will soon start an experiment of stop and search techniques by the police. The immediate cause is the deadly stabbing in the city centre on 17 September 2022. According to Marc Schuilenburg, Professor of Digital Surveillance at Erasmus School of Law, there is no evidence of the measure’s effectiveness. Moreover, it costs a lot of man-hours and plays into the hands of ethnic profiling. He explains his doubts about the plans to Trouw.

In November, the municipality of Amsterdam decided to terminate its experiment with stop and search techniques. Nevertheless, the municipality of Nijmegen decided to start with one following the fatal stabbing of 21-year-old Robel. Schuilenburg questions the experiment: “You can use all those man-hours for other preventive measures, such as behavioural therapy or family care for vulnerable youngsters. These measures have proven to keep young people out of crime”.

Back in time

There is no hard evidence that stop and search techniques effectively reduce stabbing incidents in the investigated areas. The biggest risk is that the police will let ethnic profiling influence their decision to search someone. Schuilenburg explains: “Exactly this is the biggest problem within the police. The past has clearly shown that officers profile ethnically when assessing whether to stop and search someone. I find it disappointing that they still think officers will judge purely objectively, especially after the news about the toeslagenaffaire and the racist group apps by Rotterdam officers. It is like we are going back in time”.

Schuilenburg understands the goal stop and search techniques might serve: “It is also a moral appeal to society. You show that certain behaviour, such as gun possession and knife violence, is not tolerated. You can compare it to a prison sentence. That hardly helps prevent relapse, but you show what you really do not accept”.

More information

Read the entire article of Trouw here (in Dutch).

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