The criminal investigation department and serious crime in Rotterdam - 1966-1996

Serious crime has become a major problem in the Netherlands. Emeritus Professor Cyrille Fijnaut and Assistant Professor Robby Roks of Erasmus School of Law, explain in their Dutch written book “De recherche en de zware misdaad in Rotterdam – 1966-1996”,why detectives from the city of Rotterdam the 1980s already predicted that this was about to happen.

A massive illegal drug industry, devastating bank robberies time and again, a massive trade in illegal firearms, money laundering on an unimaginably large scale, frequent deadly violence against individuals and serious cases of corruption. Until the beginning of this century, only a few assumed that crime would take on such proportions in our country.

Already predicted in the 1980s

Nevertheless, this disastrous development was already predicted during the late 1980s by experienced employees of the Central Investigation Department at the Municipal Police in Rotterdam. They came to the conclusion that the battle against organised crime in Rotterdam, but actually in the whole of the Netherlands, had been lost and expressed this bitter conclusion in interviews in newspapers.

What did they base their ominous conclusion on? This question is answered by Cyrille Fijnaut and Robby Roks in their book.

Unique historical sources

The authors studied on the ways in which the criminal investigation department and serious crime developed in Rotterdam from the 1960s to the 1990s. Their study goes back to the initiative of Professor Cyrille Fijnaut during the late 1980s.

To this end, Cyrille Fijnaut, with the help of assistants, students and secretaries of Erasmus School of Law, collected a great deal of information from a variety of sources, such as newspaper articles and annual reports of the municipal police. In addition, he personally interviewed around 40 experienced detectives. For various reasons, Cyrille Fijnaut wasn’t able to analyse the rich data he collected in the late 1980s. Until recently, because with the help of Robby Roks unique historical sources could finally be analysed.

Four central findings

  • Jan Blaauw, the former Rotterdam police commissioner, and his colleagues already spoke of the lost battle against organised crime at the end of the eighties. Not only in Rotterdam, but throughout the Netherlands in general;
  • The situation in Rotterdam at that time was a good reflection of the serious crime problems we face today.
  • Since the 1970s, the port of Rotterdam has played a prominent role as a hub in international organised crime. If this crime increases, this role of the port will naturally also become more important and the corruption problems will also increase.
  • Former police commissioner Jan Blaauw was concerned about the abolition of border controls between the member states of the European Union. It would transform the territory of the European Union into a single criminal area of ​​operations.
More information

For more information, please contact Ronald de Groot, Communications Officer at Erasmus School of Law, via or +31 6 53 641 846.

The book can be ordered here.

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