Anonymous tips return to pre-corona pandemic levels
Meld Misdaad Anoniem (Report Crime Anonymously, M.) exists 20 years: more than 300,000 reports, 35,000 arrests
The number of reports to Meld Misdaad Anoniem (M.) has returned to pre-coronapandemic levels. In 2022, the reporting center forwarded a total of 18,857 reports to police and other investigative authorities. Most reports concerned drug related offences, followed by violence, wanted suspects and financial crimes. Thanks to these tips, at least 3,046 suspects were tracked down.
After two exceptional peak years, the number of reports decreased in 2022. During the coronavirus period, the number of reports to M. was higher. This was partly due to the great social outrage about violence and vandalism during the riots in city centres, and because some signs of crime became more visible. Marc Janssen: “The monthly average has now returned to the ‘old’ level. People often think before they report, they weigh up their own pros and cons. And it seems that now once again, they are more likely to be reigned by the delusion of the day.”
More than half of all tips (10,241) were drug-related. These reports cover the entire chain of drug-related crimes: from international drug smuggling, synthetic drug production and cannabis cultivation to street trafficking. In second place is the violent crimes category, such as assault, shooting and stabbing incidents or murder and manslaughter. There were 2,009 reports on these crimes last year. Additionally, M. received 1,580 tips as a result of investigative TV shows, followed by 1,377 tips about financial crimes such as money laundering and criminal assets.
For the third year in a row, the number of reports regarding wanted suspects remained remarkably high. M. received the majority of these nearly 1,600 tips after broadcasts of the TV show ‘Opsporing Verzocht’ and regional investigative TV programs. Marc Janssen: “These are often violent crimes with a major impact on the victims and on those around them. They include home robberies, nightlife violence or even murder. The footage shown has a great impact on viewers personally, but also on their sense of security in the community and even in their own neighborhood. This encourages them to want to contribute to solving these kinds of serious cases. This is very positive for us, because thanks to these tips perpetrators are caught and more victims prevented.” For example, at the end of December a 28-year-old man was sentenced on appeal to a prison term of 23 years and six months for murder. The victim had been cold-bloodedly liquidated in a residential area in Rotterdam in 2018. A valuable tip to M. after a broadcast of ‘Opsporing Verzocht’ contributed to tracing down the shooter and his accomplice.
There were more positive results: feedback from police shows that at least 3,046 suspects were tracked down last year following tips to Meld Misdaad Anoniem. In total, at least 611 weapons were removed from the streets. Additionally, analysis shows that at least 206,864 hemp plants were seized.
In the past year, M. tips also played a part in the conviction of perpetrators of other serious crimes. For example, a 34-year-old man from Mijdrecht was convicted of systematically assaulting his former girlfriend and their son. The court sentenced him to compulsory treatment and a prison sentence of four years. The court in Zwolle sentenced a 38-year-old former police officer from Lent to 2.5 years in prison. The man sold confidential information to criminals. The report to M. was confirmed by information from Encrochat messages.
A 28-year-old man was sentenced to four years in prison for two shop robberies in Rotterdam. In both cases, store employees were threatened with a firearm and forced to hand over money. The perpetrator was recognised after footage was shown on the regional investigative TV show ‘Bureau Rijnmond’. A similar success was achieved after a broadcast of ‘Team West’. A 19-year-old perpetrator who robbed a currency exchange office in The Hague was recognised. The court sentenced him to one year in juvenile detention.
20 years of reporting anonymously
Meld Misdaad Anoniem has now been operating for twenty years. Since its establishment, the tip line has forwarded more than 305,000 reports to police and investigative authorities. Partly thanks to these tips, at least 36,000 arrests have been made. Marc Janssen: “Despite the fact that people often struggle with dilemmas surrounding reporting crimes, they know where to find M. The anonymity ensures that important information still reaches the police and investigative authorities, while the reporter remains out of the picture.”
According to Martin Sitalsing, police chief of the Mid Netherlands unit (unit Midden Nederland), M. has become an essential part of investigations: “People often want to report their concerns or pass on their tips, but they cannot do so because they are worried about, for example, their own safety; because they know the perpetrator or because they are being threatened. That is why it is so important that they can share their valuable information anonymously with Meld Misdaad Anoniem. M. breaks down the barriers to reporting.”