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Dutch police signal an increase in ‘disturbed’ persons

Dutch police responded to a record number of "disturbed" persons last year, with a study showing an increase of 12 percent compared to 2016.

Published: March 2, 2018, 5:49 am

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    From 2013 to 2016 the number of such incidents increased by nearly 60 percent, according to figures the police released this week, with The Hague registering almost 11 000 cases after Noord-Holland with over 13 000.

    Some 83 501 incidents involving ” disturbed” people were noted, but the police say these figures do not reflect the number of disturbed people in the Netherlands overall.

    The trend has been called “striking and worrisome” since not only the number, but also the severity of incidents is on the rise, the police said. The police have asked the Dutch institute for public health and environment RIVM to investigate.

    According to Amsterdam police chief Pieter-Jaap Aalbersberg, who is in charge of the disturbed persons portfolio at the National Police, too little is being done and the situation is getting out of control.

    “Just like the police, professionals in healthcare and support should be available 24/7 in districts and neighbourhoods. Together with community officers they can pick up worrying signals early and provide vulnerable people with appropriate care and support.”

    But only about 30 percent of people police call “disturbed” actually have a mental disorder making the term “disturbed” a somewhat controversial choice, researcher Bauke Koekkoek of health service GGZ Nederland explained.

    It includes a wide range of people, including foreigners.

    Last December, police chief Erik Akerboom said he wanted a mental health expert on call in every Dutch district. “It would be good if there was a mental health worker in every district, because we are that now”, he told Dutch news portal AD.

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