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Financial supervision in (juvenile) criminal law

Many adults and juveniles who are in prosecuted in criminal courts also have financial problems. This applies to almost one third of probation cases and around 60% of all prisoners.

In 2018 a motion was adopted in the Dutch House of Representatives enabling mandatory financial supervision of convicted minors. For example, the imposition by the criminal courts of mandatory civil measures like an administration order as a special condition. The Leiden University departments of Criminology and Child Law were asked by the Ministry of Justice and Security to study how current financial measures in (juvenile) criminal law are proceeding and how financial supervision can be improved.

To answer this question, three research methods were used.  First, desk research was conducted to analyse the current legal possibilities for imposing financial measures within a criminal law framework. Second, an analysis of 196 files was carried out at the Dutch Probation Service in order to gain insight into the scope, nature, and results of the various forms of financial supervision. Third, 28 in-depth interviews were conducted with respondents involved in the design and implementation of financial supervision. Respondents included judges, public prosecutors, probation officers, debt counsellors and administrators.

The study shows that a large section of probation clients is facing financial problems. In recent years, the way financial problems are dealt with has received increased attention from politicians and academia. However, this approach in the context of criminal law can still be improved on many points. For example, at all stages in criminal proceedings there is a lack of knowledge, skills, and attention for financial problems in relation to rehabilitation and criminal behaviour. According to the respondents there are too many objections to having criminal courts impose civil measures, but the process between the criminal courts and civil courts can be significantly accelerated. Other more mandatory financial conditions should be imposed more often by the courts to encourage the probation services to address financial problems even in the cases of unwilling individuals. It is surprising that during a period of detention, hardly any financial conditions are set as part of a prison programme or for conditional release. The detention period could have been used to prepare to meet these conditions. The study also calls for closer cooperation between the relevant authorities and the development of specific programmes that are aimed at the financial situation in the framework of criminal law.

Download the report (in Dutch) with a summary in English here.

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