Youth crime in Brabant tackled: ‘Is so much bureaucracy really necessary’

Breda, Eindhoven and Tilburg receive extra money from the government to tackle youth crime. During the performance ‘They smell it if you’re afraid’ at Natlab in Eindhoven, it became painfully visible on Monday evening how young people end up in the world of violence and crime. This was followed by a conversation with mayor Dijsselbloem about the approach to youth crime in his city. “The battle must be fought on all fronts.”

The story is about Justin, a teenager who has ended up in the criminal world. At first it is exciting. He earns a lot of money and his life feels like a movie. Once sunk deep in the underworld, he is disappointed and wants to get out. But then it is often too late.

Justin takes the audience into his story on the basis of raps. From stealing small things and smoking a little weed, to robbing a jeweler. From juvenile detention back to his mother or to that ‘little job’, where he only has to be on guard and with which he can earn a few thousand euros in one fell swoop? The choice is easy at that point.

His story does not stand alone. It is a collection of true stories of young people who have gone astray. The stories surfaced in conversations with young people during months of research by De Balie, Spot on Stories, Omroep West and Omroep Brabant.

‘LinkedIn for juvenile crime’
Eindhoven is one of the fifteen municipalities that receive money to tackle youth crime. In fact, the municipality even receives an extra large amount. “That’s not something to fly the flag for,” says the mayor disappointed.

Because those money are desperately needed in Eindhoven. For example, the neighborhoods of Vaartbroek and Woensel-Zuid are also referred to by professionals as a kind of ‘LinkedIn for juvenile crime’. How will the mayor handle this? “I’m not here tonight with the solution. I’m still much too inexperienced for that,” he admits. “But I do know that we have to tackle the problem close to the young people.”

Less bureaucracy
According to Dijsselbloem, schools also play an important role in signaling the problem and this is confirmed by teachers in the room. “We see a lot and experience all sorts of things. But when we knock on the door of aid agencies, there is often a waiting period of three months. Then you see the young people slipping away and before you know it they are already involved in crime,” says a concerned teacher.

In any case, it is clear that there is work to be done. “You can see the problems, but you also have to have the capacity to tackle them,” says Dijsselbloem. “It needs to be increased. And sometimes I think: is so much bureaucracy necessary? That’s a dangerous thing to say in my position.”

There is applause from the hall. “Yes, that is applauded when you say that as mayor. But sometimes we really have to see if the administration can’t go faster or later, so that someone can be helped immediately.”