NOS News•yesterday, 2:00 PM
Stalking remains a major problem. Almost five years after the murder of the Rotterdam girl Hümeyra (16), there is still poor insight into how many victims there are. The organizations involved are also unable to tackle stalkers.
On December 18, 2018, Hümeyra was murdered in the bicycle shed of her high school by her ex, Bekir E. He had stalked and threatened her for months. Hümeyra filed a report several times, but nothing was done. After the murder, the inspection came with a harsh verdict: the police, the judiciary and Veilig Thuis have failed.
Since then, the authorities have been trying to get stalking under control, but this has not yet been successful. NOS Stories spoke to a number of victims, including Cato (21). “I met a boy through a dating app. It started out nice, but after we met up he became increasingly greedy. He kept sending me messages and calling me. He also came to my work. When I had blocked him everywhere, he started calling my friends. and approach family.”
Unclear how much
One of the problems in tackling stalking is the lack of clarity about how many victims there are. According to the Central Bureau of Statistics, this concerns approximately 210,000 victims per year. About 40,000 of them file a report. However, the police systems only contain 3,600 reports of stalking. This is because an initial report of stalking is often recorded as a threat or (domestic) violence.
No stalking figures have been registered with other parties such as Veilig Thuis and Stichting Fier. The Fier Foundation says it will start with that in response to this story.
Approach remains difficult
Tackling stalkers also does not seem to be going well. According to the Dutch Police Union (NPB), reports have been made more often since Hümeyra’s death, and an intake interview is taken seriously, but after that it remains quiet. It is also difficult for the police to stop the stalkers. “There is a lack of staff, people often report late and the police only come after a number of serious incidents,” says union chairman Jan Struijs.
Safe at Home also indicates that it is difficult to get a grip on stalking. “Since Hümeyra, we have sat at the table with the police, the Public Prosecution Service and Victim Support,” says Judith Kuypers, chairman of the National Network Safe at Home. “All parties are paying more attention to the problem, but in some regions things are going more smoothly than in others.”
According to Kuypers, stalking cases are now identified more quickly and there is better communication between the parties involved. “But unfortunately, stalking still occurs too often in some regions. For example, because the police do not have enough priority or money to tackle it, because Veilig Thuis does not manage it, or because the municipality does not consider it important enough.”
‘Also a task for society’
After Hümeyra’s death, the police developed a special system: SASH. Officers must fill out a form showing how dangerous a stalker is. But according to the NPB and Victim Support, this form is not always completed correctly.
Police said: “Until something actually happens, there’s not much we can do.”
According to the police, it is completed correctly and the problem is at the front. “The police are often criticized when something goes wrong, but that is not entirely justified,” says Alfred Folkeringa, Care and Safety coordinator at the police. “When a victim comes to the police, there have already been dozens of incidents. In all those other incidents there have also been signals that need to be picked up. And that must be done by society: by citizens, neighbors and at school. And that must then be done also be reported.”
Yet one in three victims does not report the crime because they think there is no point. Cato also has that experience. “I reported it twice by phone. Then I also told them that I still have WhatsApp messages. Then they said: ‘Yes, until something actually happens, we can’t do much.’ So I didn’t report it anymore.”
Are you dealing with a stalker? “Start by collecting evidence,” says Roy Heerkens of Victim Support. “Screenshots of WhatsApp messages. Register in a logbook how often you receive calls. Take it to the police.” And the police also say: “Always report or report.”