Wednesday , November 29 2023

Opinion: Attention for delinquency among youngsters can’t hurt

This opinion is written in The Daily Herald. The call by the First Chamber of the Dutch Parliament to assist St. Maarten with expertise in the area of youth delinquency and detention (see Saturday paper) is interesting. One of the arguments used by certain politicians in The Hague who keep coming up with efforts to somehow restrict the admittance of people from the islands to the Netherlands is that a good number of youngsters who come there from the Caribbean part of the kingdom end up on the wrong path.

To the extent that this is true, the most appropriate place to deal with the problem is obviously at the source. If the islands produce fewer teenage dropouts with few prospects, fewer of them obviously would end up causing trouble in Dutch cities. Especially where it pertains to re-socialisation of young people gone astray, it would seem local authorities could use all the help they can get. At the moment there is too much of a so-called revolving door situation characterised by a lot of increasingly young repeat offenders who also clog up the Justice system.

The request to Kingdom Relations Minister Ronald Plasterk is all the more interesting in light of recent concerns expressed in the Second Chamber regarding the investigative capacity of the local Prosecutor’s Office and National Detectives, particularly for integrity-related crimes. Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams’ reaction in Thursday’s edition was that the Prosecutor’s Office is well aware of its own strengths and fully capable of asking for assistance with its caseload from elsewhere in the kingdom should such be needed.

That may be true, but as the Progress Committee St. Maarten had advised in October 2013 to make more detectives available to the island’s law enforcement authorities it’s not unreasonable to ask whether such took place. Also taking into account the just-released French-side figures showing an increase in crime across the open border, a bit more investigative help probably would be useful. Local efforts to deal with delinquency among youngsters are ongoing and there is already, for example, a special Youth Prosecutor with whom readers were able to get acquainted in Saturday’s interview series “Behind the doors of justice.” However, this doesn’t take away the notion that some technical assistance in this area probably can’t hurt, as two usually know more than one. In the end, dealing with the issue in an effective manner is in the best interest of the entire kingdom.

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