'Police Target Honest Citizens, Criminals Get off Scot Free’
THE HAGUE, Wednesday - Normal people who commit minor infringements are treated much more harshly by the police than are criminals who constantly break the law, says a study presented Tuesday by the National Safety Perceptions Expertise Group (LEV) and carried out in 15 urban districts.
Youth gangs, criminal drug addicts and other ‘anti-social’’ elements in urban districts imagine themselves to be inviolable due to the lack of an effective approach. Citizens feel left in the lurch by municipal administrators and police, as a result of which they lose their trust in the government. “The seriousness of this problem is underestimated,” says LEV chairman Marnix Eysink Smeets. "While the good citizen is treated more and more harshly for the smallest infringement, the real troublemakers in their eyes get away scot free.”
The public does not feel extra unsafe due to these problems, but their sense of justice is hurt, according to the research. The biggest nuisance is experienced particularly by citizens in ‘socially weaker districts’ of towns. Sometimes, the liveability of an entire district is under pressure. Calling in help from the government is done less and less because “citizens no longer trust that the government can tackle the problems effectively.”
The average citizen is fined heavily for a broken back light on his or her bicycle, but antisocial criminals go free, says Smeets in Reformatorisch Dagblad newspaper. "That leads to erosion of the sense of justice. You should not want the law of the strongest to apply in a district. (...) Citizens often dare not make a police report. The police should not wait around at the station, but should go into the district themselves."