Published On: Mon, Jan 16th, 2023

Improving Crime Fund management remains a work in progress

PHILIPSBURG — In April 2019 the Law Enforcement Council made six recommendations for the improvement of the management and supervision of the Crime Fund. In November 2022 the Council completed a report that details what happened to those recommendations. Only one has been implemented, the remaining five are still a work in progress.

The Council advises the ministry of justice to temporary suspend the financing of new projects with money from the Crime Fund. That should not be too difficult or painful because the last call for new projects dates back to 2018 and since that time no new projects have been submitted.

The Public Prosecutor’s Office and the police force have not submitted any projects. The Court of Guardianship did, but this organization is not familiar with the requirements their projects have to meet. “They would like to know,” the report states; that begs the question why they did not just ask. Their project proposal has to do with youth rehabilitation.

The objective of the Crime Fund is that its resources are used for the financing of projects related to crime fighting.

The Report states nevertheless that the ministry of justice has taken steps in the right direction, but of the five following recommendations it had just (partially) implemented one at the beginning of 2021: the improvement of the physical and digital administration. The ones that are still works in progress are: the consequent execution of legal obligations; the writing of a current policy; anchoring rules and guarantees in a national ordinance; and raising public awareness about the fund’s existence.

In 2022, the Council observes, the situation has not changed. The compliance percentage is 25.

There seems to be some light at the end of the tunnel. “Once legislation and policies have been completed the other recommendations will be able to follow quickly.”

Prioritizing and continuous attention remain relevant conditions, the report states. As the situation is right now, the ministry is not making policy plans and budgets for the Crime Fund and the desired steering group for crime fighting has not been established either.

There are also some odd practical stumbling blocks that hinder the proper management of the Crime Fund. The Prosecutor’s office for instance, had a pin device that enabled citizens to pay their fines with a bank card. But the device broke down and the ministry has to organize the purchase of a replacement. This device will be linked directly to a bank account of the Crime Fund. At the time the report was completed, the intention was to start using the new machine per January 1, 2023.