Public-private partnerships and the fight against drug crime in the port of Rotterdam

de rotterdamse haven

On 8 November 2021 Lieselot Bisschop, Professor of Public and Private Interests at Erasmus School of Law, discussed cocaine trade in the port of Rotterdam and the drug related crime  on the talk show Vers Beton Live. In this recent broadcast, she focussed on the public-private partnership in the port and ways to combat this. Commissioned  by the municipality, the Public Prosecution Service, the police, and customs Bisschop, Richard Staring, Professor of Criminology, and Robby Roks, Associate Professor of Criminology, researched drug crime in the port of Rotterdam earlier in 2018-2019.

The port and drug crime seem inextricably linked, but the extent and characteristics of drug-related crime is not clear. One clear thing, however, is that the number of confiscations has risen again this year. More than 61,000 kilos of drugs have already been found this year, while the count was 40,000 kilos last year. However, the street value does not seem to change. Bisschop will not make any investigation-based statements about these or other estimates, because the investigation focuses on the nature and approach of drug crime. “The underlying question 'what is the impact we have on society' is a more important question to ask”, according to Bisschop.

The port and the people

From the perspective of a drug criminal, there are always two things to arrange. "Firstly, the drugs must be collected from a container from the port, or somewhere from the land. Secondly, it is important to pass the supervision in the port. Supervision is vulnerable, partly due to the technology and the cyber aspects of companies. The other aspect, which remains vulnerable, is people at the port", according to Bisschop. People who work in the port have much knowledge about the port , the supervision, the processes, and even know who is allowed to enter the port. Because of their knowledge, these people are vulnerable to being approached by criminals. Steps are being taken to make people aware of this. However, the pressure on port employees has increased and it is, therefore, important that the care for these people remains a priority.  

Steps in the right direction

Other panel members at Vers Beton Live, Jan Janse, chief of the seaport police, and Bas Janssen, director of Deltalinqs, explain which steps governments and companies in the port have taken in the fight against drug crime and what challenges come their way. Bisschop also explained that financial investigations have been given higher priority – which was one of the recommendations of the study presented in May 2019.

Lastly, Bisschop mentioned the involvement of researchers in the evaluation of public-private partnerships and the various processes within the port as an improvement. This was also a recommendation from the research report. “I think the mere fact that we, as researchers, are allowed to watch and also provide critical feedback on the process and on that cooperation is, in my opinion, also a sign that steps are being taken in the right direction”, says Bisschop.

More information

Watch the full Vers Beton Broadcast here

Currently, Bisschop is also involved in an evaluation and action-oriented study by Karin van Wingerde, Professor of Corporate Crime and Governance at Erasmus School of Law, Hans Nelen and Roland Moerland of Maastricht University. This study is focussed on evaluating the strengthening of the approach to subversive crime, for which, among other things, the port of Rotterdam is monitored. Read the mid-term report on this study here



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