Shop keepers demand national bans on thieves
9 January 2004
AMSTERDAM — Retailers have demanded a national shop ban be imposed on people who repeatedly steal and have urged for the creation of a national databank with the photos of these offenders.
The Dutch retail council RND — which has entered into talks with the Justice Ministry — confirmed on Friday that shopkeepers can already individually impose bans on repeat offenders, claiming that the system has proven exceptionally effective. Breaching a ban carries a risk of a six-month jail term.
An RND official also said shopkeepers know who they have placed a ban on, but if a judge or the Public Prosecution Office (OM) imposes a ban, an exchange of photos will be necessary. This will allow shopkeepers to recognise repeat offenders.
The retail council is thus urging for the creation of a data bank of repeat offenders that would only be accessible to shopkeepers. A similar system has already been implemented in Britain, a nu.nl news report said.
The RND official also said that shopkeepers do not need to have names and addresses, meaning that these personal details will be protected. Instead, only photos of repeat offenders will need to be made available.
The proposal comes after the OM rejected on Tuesday a controversial call to place the photos of repeat criminals on the internet or in local newspapers in what opposition MPs fear could become a form of public shaming.
The OM said repeat offenders should be tackled by the police and prosecution officials, not the public. It also said the publication of photos posed a risk of vigilante-style actions and violated privacy laws.
But the prosecution office said it backed suggestions that information should be supplied to organisations directly affected by repeat offenders. This included Dutch football association KNVB, which could be given the personal details of football hooligans.
Utrecht police chief Peter Vogelzang said on Monday that repeat offenders should have their anonymity removed. He said the public could be better supported by supplying them more current and a greater amount of information about criminality and criminals.
Amsterdam police and Utrecht Mayor Annie Brouwer have backed the plan, but political parties Labour PvdA, Christian Democrat CDA and GroenLinks were critical of the proposal. Main opposition party PvdA said it should not descend into a Middle Ages public shaming punishment.
But Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende said on Friday he was in principle not opposed to removing the anonymity of repeat offenders by placing their photos on the internet, news agency ANP reported.
He said a good balance needed to be struck between privacy and the interests of the community, but repeat break-ins cause great irritation. He also said police already have photos of wanted suspects posted to notice boards in police stations across the country.
The prime minister confirmed the Cabinet will soon examine the proposals.
[Copyright Expatica News 2004]
Subject: Dutch news