• The Netherlands is closing down prisons because their crime rates have fallen. But not everyone is happy about it. (Getty Images)Source: Getty Images
The Netherlands is closing down prisons because their crime rates have fallen. But not everyone is happy about it.
By
Shami Sivasubramanian

22 Mar 2016 - 9:57 AM  UPDATED 22 Mar 2016 - 9:57 AM

The Netherlands government will be closing down a further five prisons over the next few years in order to cut the cost of maintaining empty jail cells in the face of the country's falling crime rates.

This comes after the country finalised plans to close 19 prisons last year for the same reason. At the time, Justice Minister Ard van der Steur said there would be no plans to cut further prisons.

However, the empty cells are costing the government too much, a series of internally obtained documents by Dutch newspaper the Telegraaf reveal.

Though on the surface, lower crime rates and shutting down of prisons may seem like a good thing. But the documents reveal some darker consequences to the prisons being closed. 

1,900 job cuts would take place, with a further 700 given "mobile" positions. The nature of these mobile positions is yet to be revealed.

Another trend observed by van der Steur and his ministry was the trend of judges imposing shorter and shorter sentences. This translated to criminals facing shorter periods of time in prison on average.

They also observed that less serious crimes requiring long sentences, were becoming less common.

The downward trend in crime which is reportedly fallen by an average of 0.9% over the past few years, is expected to translate to 3,000 prison cells and 300 youth detention places to be empty in five years time.

Dutch government will to cut 1,900 jobs across the five prisons it plans shut down. (Netflix)

The extra empty cells, the maintenance of which is paid by taxpayers, is therefore seen as a wasteful expense by the justice ministry.

However, ministers in the government's opposition find the move to close prisons to irresponsible. 

Currently, The Netherlands is recouping lost costs from these empty cells by housing prisoners from other country with a surplus. The first influx of imported prisoners arrived last September, with 240 Norwegian convicts.