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The Minister does not rule out the out-of-home placement of children through hostage taking as a means of exerting pressure for unpaid fines.

The Minister of Justice and Security Dilan Yeşilgöz-Zegerius and the Minister for Legal Protection Franc Weerwind have responded to written questions from members Abassi (DENK), Lahlah (GL/PvdA), Van Nispen (SP) and Palmen (NSC) regarding 'defects ' in the current fine system in the Netherlands. These questions followed the book 'De Boetefabriek' by Merel van Rooy, which describes how traffic fines have become an increasing source of income for the State. The Ministers were asked whether they share the opinion that the traffic fine system in the Netherlands has gone too far, resulting in unnecessary suffering and debts.

According to the administrators, it is crucial for safety that road users adhere to the rules, and that effective enforcement of these rules is essential. She emphasizes that for optimal effect, traffic fines must be collected quickly and securely. In the past year, approximately 8,4 million traffic fines were imposed on the basis of the Administrative Enforcement of Traffic Regulations Act, of which 84% were paid on time. “For people who have difficulty paying their traffic fines, it is important that there are sufficient options for payment arrangements that are offered in an accessible manner and are actually used. This is crucial to prevent people from falling into debt or existing debts from increasing,” said the Minister.

person-oriented

The Central Judicial Collection Agency (CJIB) plays an important role in this. The CJIB collects traffic fines as individually as possible and tries to prevent (more) debts. According to Yeşilgöz-Zegerius, the CJIB has made great strides in recent years and is continuously working on quality and appropriate services to help people meet their financial obligations.

Yet there are hostage takings under the Mulder Act. Between 1998 and 2018, hostage-taking was used in 93.835 cases. Hostage taking is a tool used by the public prosecutor to force people to pay outstanding fines. If someone does not pay the fines, he or she can be taken hostage in the hope that the person concerned will still pay. “We cannot completely rule out that children were removed from their home at the time because their parent was taken hostage. However, we are not aware of any cases in which hostage taking has led to a possible removal from the home," they wrote to the Chamber.

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Dilan Yesilgoz
Photo: © Pitane Blue - Dilan Yesilgöz

"The fact that many payment arrangements are being made does not automatically mean that the traffic fines have become too high. The financial position of those involved probably plays the largest role in this. Even with a lower fine, people who have difficulty paying a traffic fine due to their financial circumstances will expected to make a payment arrangement."

The policy is that hostage taking is not used if someone wants to pay but is unable to do so. This principle is anchored in the policy of the Public Prosecution Service and the policy rules of the Minister for Legal Protection. Government authorities must make every effort to gain insight into the situation of the person concerned before considering taking hostages. In the event of inability to pay, the person concerned must explain his situation to the judge.

insurance

When asked whether more reasonable insurance rates could be considered for people with money problems, Yeşilgöz-Zegerius answers that taking out insurance is your own responsibility. “Taking out the necessary insurance is the citizen's own responsibility. The premiums are determined by the insurance companies. If the premium cannot be paid (temporarily), the license plate holder can choose to have the vehicle suspended by the RDW. The vehicle does not then need to be insured. Motor vehicle tax does not have to be paid for the vehicle and the vehicle does not have to be MOT approved. During the suspension, the vehicle may not be parked or driven on public roads,” the Minister said.

According to Statistics Netherlands (CBS), an estimated 100.000 children live in a family with problematic debts due to a traffic fine. The CBS figures show the percentage of households with problematic debts, including one or more outstanding traffic fines, and the family composition. “However, this does not mean that increased traffic fines are the cause of problematic debts. Traffic fines may also have been imposed and increased after problematic debts arose for other reasons,” the response said.

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In writing emphasizes it is important that citizens are treated with care, regardless of the cause of their debts, without losing sight of why traffic fines have been imposed and that they should be paid. The CJIB pays close attention to this by collecting traffic fines on a personal basis. “The fact that many payment arrangements are being made does not automatically mean that the traffic fines have become too high. The financial position of those involved probably plays the largest role in this. Even with a lower fine, people who have difficulty paying a traffic fine due to their financial circumstances are expected to make a payment arrangement," the Minister said.

research

The Ministry of Justice previously announced that it will complete a study at the end of 2024 that will examine the effectiveness of increasing fines and how it can reduce rising debts. This does not answer the question of how many people have been taken hostage or whether the increased warnings are still proportionate to the offense. “This law evaluation addresses the broader question of whether traffic regulations are enforced in accordance with the objectives of the law and whether both the structure of the law itself and its implementation are efficient and effective. The Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment has announced a study into the effectiveness of embankments. This involves identifying any increases that may arise during the collection process and exploring options to reduce the increase in debt. The reminders for traffic fines are included in this investigation,” the response said.

The Fine Factory

In the Fine Factory Merel van Rooy reconstructs how the Mulder traffic fine law, from its introduction in the 1990s, gradually derailed into a system in which hundreds of thousands of citizens have been trampled over the years. Tens of thousands of them have been wrongfully imprisoned. The underlying patterns are recognizable: they are the same as those of the benefits scandal.

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