Effectiveness of tackling undermining crime difficult to measure

Undermining crime: we invest hundreds of millions of euros in fighting it. But what does our approach yield? That question proves difficult to answer. The costs and benefits of measures are difficult to identify, due to the intertwining of the criminal underworld and the legal upper world. As a result, effects are sometimes difficult to isolate. Yet it is crucial to be able to measure the effectiveness of measures. After all, are we doing the right things? That is why we need tools for conducting social cost-benefit analyses (SCBAs) in the field of security and justice.

In 2021, the cabinet announced an additional 434 million euros to tackle undermining crime. In the coalition agreement, this increases annually to a sum of 100 million euros structurally from 2025. 40 million euros will be used to strengthen the approach to tackling undermining crime at the regional level. Inland ports, airports and logistics transport centers are often located in outlying areas. This makes these activities vulnerable. Through more intensive cooperation, for example from the Regional Information and Expertise Centers (RIECs), which include parties such as municipalities, provinces, police, prosecutors, the Tax Department and other institutions, undermining could be tackled. Efforts are also being made to strengthen investigative capacity, deploy new investigative techniques and develop tools against serious crime.

Only hard numbers are measurable
A recurring question, however, is: what are the effects of these investments? Is undermining really countered? What are the consequences for the welfare and (broad) prosperity of society? The interconnectedness of the criminal underworld with the legal upper world makes it difficult to identify the costs and benefits of measures. The social effects of undermining crime are strongly intertwined, making it difficult to get a clear picture of effectiveness of measures. This is also evident in a study of the social costs of drug crime (in Dutch). This report lists the social costs of undermining and drug crime in the Netherlands that are known – so-called hard figures. For example, the costs to the public sector that can be directly linked to (the fight against) drug crime. Other costs and benefits are often difficult to demonstrate or quantify. For example, how can the broader sense of security of citizens (including material and immaterial damages of victims of drug crime) be included in an analysis? And how does undermining crime affect drug addictions and thus the quality of life of these addicts?

Applicability of mkba in the security domain
In 2020, the Scientific Research and Documentation Center of the Ministry of JenV (WODC) therefore conducted research into the applicability of social cost and benefit analyses in the security domain. This showed that data on effects is only available to a limited extent. An integral SCBA is therefore difficult to perform. The study concludes that tools can be devised in the form of a SCBA workbook in the justice and security domain. Ecorys supports this recommendation. Our experts have extensive knowledge and experience in conducting SCBAs in various fields, including specifically security. With this knowledge, they can make valuable contributions to the concretization of methodology, definitions and any key figures in the field of justice and security. In addition, they have the expertise to analyze specific national or regional and local measures in order to contribute to a more efficient and effective approach to undermining.

Want to know more? Our consultant Mike Beke would be happy to exchange ideas with you.