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Netherlands is shutting down prisons due to lack of prisoners

Imagine a country without crimes, is virtually tantamount to a life without fear. This is somewhat a case in the Netherlands where prisons are being shut down due to insufficient number of convicts.

Prison overcrowding might be a problem in the UK, but in the Netherlands they are closing prisons at an astonishing rate, simply because there just aren’t enough prisoners anymore.

Five Dutch prison closures were announced in 2016, following nineteen closures in 2014 and eight in 2009.

A prisoner in his cell in Scheveningen Prison, The Hague, Netherlands
A prisoner in his cell in Scheveningen Prison, The Hague, Netherlands

Figures from the Dutch ministry of justice last year showed overall crime will drop by 0.9 per cent a year in the next five years.

Since a third of its 13,500 prison cells are unfilled, this means five prisons will definitely close, and the prison workers’ union, FNV, fears 1,900 jail workers will lose their jobs, while 700 could become “mobile” employees based in more than one location.


“More than a third of cells are not used, and the predictions are that it is going to get worse,” said Jaap Oosterveer, a spokesman for the ministry of justice. “Obviously, from a social perspective, it is better because crime is down, but if you work in jails, it is not good news.”

The Netherlands has been innovative in trying to solve its jail problem. It has “leased” spots in jail to Belgium and Norway, so around 300 Belgian criminals have been held at His Dutch Majesty’s pleasure in Tilberg prison.




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