Mediation following a police report

The Dutch National Research Agenda awards research in mediation with 50.000 euro grant.

08/15/2019 | 12:51 PM

Each year, tens of thousands of police reports go uninvestigated. This is partly because the police have limited time and resources, and must therefore set priorities. It is also because many of the reports relate to matters for which our legal and judicial system is ill-prepared: a marital row that gets out of hand, a feud between neighbours, or a child who has robbed his or her own grandmother. These are all matters which are likely to become bogged down in the judicial system, so the police would prefer to find alternative solutions. Ronald van Steden, associate professor of political science and public administration, is working alongside police forces and the organization Restorative Justice Nederland to develop a new approach. “When you make a police report, one of two things can happen. Either the police take action or they don’t. The vast majority of reports about matters in the personal sphere fall into the latter category, either because there is very little the police can do or because they have other priorities. We wish to help people in this situation by creating a third option: mediation.”

Van Steden’s latest project follows on from earlier research conducted with the help of Rotterdam police. “I examined how police reports are processed in Rotterdam to determine how and why some do not lead to the outcome that the people making the report wish to see. I also examined possibilities for more meaningful interventions, such as alternatives to making a formal police report which nevertheless lead to the problem being solved. We now see some mediation on a very small scale, perhaps by the local beat officer or some local community group. I am going to examine whether the input of a mediator in these situations is indeed useful and whether this approach should be adopted on a wider scale.” A pilot project involving police units in Rotterdam and Amsterdam will begin in October.

Van Steden’s research is being funded by the National Research Agenda’s ‘Ideas Generator’ programme, an NWO initiative designed to support small-scale, high risk projects which nevertheless show potential for significant societal impact. A full description of Ronald van Steden’s research can be found on the NWO website.