A research team from the Department of Law, Society & Crime of Erasmus School of Law carried out evaluative research into the national Pilot Reprimande on behalf of the Scientific Research and Documentation Center (WODC). An apparent 'small' topic that has important consequences for underage suspects and police practice in reality. It puts an end to the unnecessary transfers to the police station of underage suspects of the lightest category of offences, and it replaces them with a meaningful intervention by the police: police reprimand with the involvement of the parents.
The reprimand entails a different method than the regular arrest and arraignment. Underage first offenders of a minor offence such as shoplifting are no longer transferred to the police station to be brought before the assistant public prosecutor. The arraignment will now take place by telephone on location. Based on this arraignment, the assistant public prosecutor will judge whether the minor suspect is eligible for a reprimand. If this is the case, he will be released, and a reprimand interview will take place between the minor, parents, and the police.
From the police cell to the kitchen table
The Pilot has four objectives. First, the reprimand must avoid an unnecessary legal process with detention at the police station. In addition, it should provide a national framework for preventing unnecessary stays in a police cell. Previously, these types of initiatives differed across the country. The reprimand must also provide for a proportional and pedagogical settlement outside criminal law. The last aim is to provide an appropriate and effective response to prevent recidivism (repeating the same offence).
The research team, consisting of Jolande uit Beijerse, Tamar Fischer, Chiara van Guldener, Liselotte Postma, and Frank Weerman, evaluated the Pilot Reprimande based on the initial plan, the process, and the extent to which the goals were achieved. In addition to the conducted empirical research in the police practice, an extensive international criminal and criminological comparative literature review has been conducted into the effectiveness of the reprimand and its legal embedding in the criminal process. The team recommends giving the reprimand a permanent basis in juvenile criminal law.
Appreciation by the minister
In a very extensive response, the Minister for Legal Protection Franc Weerwind expressed his appreciation for the work of the researchers and said that their extensive analysis provides a strong basis for the further development of the reprimand. He sees the reprimand as “a valuable part of the intervention palette in (youth) criminal law.”
The investigation has resulted in fifteen recommendations for the future of the reprimand, the majority of which have been adopted or will be taken into consideration by the minister.