How To Stay Safe in the Netherlands

The Netherlands is generally considered a safe country. However, be alert in Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague and other large cities that are plagued by pickpockets and bicycle theft, violent crimes are very rare.

Police, ambulance and fire brigade have one general emergency number 112. There is one police force, organized in 25 police regions. Visitors will deal with mostly the regional police. Some specialized forces, such as the railway police and the highway police on main roads, are run by a separate national force (highway police being the KLPD – Korps Landelijke Politie Diensten, and railway police being the spoorwegpolitie). When calling 112, if you can, advise on what emergency services what you need. When you need police but there is no life in danger or crime being executed, you call +31900-8844, with this number they will come quickly but without sirens. If you want to report a crime anonymously (e.g. because you are in fear of reprisals or a confrontation with the perpetrator) you can call +31800-7000.

Border controls and port and airport security are handled by a separate police force, the Marechaussee (or abbreviation ‘KMar’ – Koninklijke Marechaussee), a gendarmerie. They are an independent service of the Dutch armed forces (making them a military service, not a civil one). City guards have security tasks among their duties in most cities such as issuing parking and litter fines. They often have police-style uniforms to confer some authority, but their powers are limited. For instance, only the police carry a gun.

Prostitution in the Netherlands is legal since 1988 if the prostitute consents. Pimping or otherwise exploiting women against their will is a crime. Illegal prostitution in hotels can be raided by the police and the client as well as the prostitute can be fined or be put in jail. Hotel personnel are obliged by law to notify the police if they suspect these kinds of illegal activities. Having sex with a minor (18 for prostitutes, 16 for other people) is also illegal.

European Network against Racism, an international organisation supported by European Commission reported that, in the Netherlands, half of the Turks reported having experienced racial discrimination. The same report points out a “dramatic growth of Islamophobia” paralleled with anti-Semitism. These attitudes are however almost entirely to do with migration concerns, and, being people famed for their tolerance, the Dutch are very unlikely to treat visitors any differently based on their ethnicity.

Unsafe parts of cities In the larger cities, certain areas are considered unsafe at night. A few are also unsafe in daylight (but only relatively so; the chances of you getting in trouble in one of these areas are still very small):

  • Amsterdam: Kolenkitbuurt, Overtoomse Veld, Amsterdam-Zuidoost, Osdorp
  • The Hague: Morgenstond, Schilderswijk
  • Deventer: Heechterp/Schieringen, Rivierenwijk
  • Eindhoven: Woensel West
  • Leeuwarden: Heechterp/Schieringen
  • Maastricht: Noord-Oost
  • Nijmegen: Hatert
  • Rotterdam: Bloemhof, Hillesluis, Oude Noorden, Oude Westen, Pendrecht, Spangen, Tarwewijk, Tussendijken
  • Utrecht: Kanaleneiland, Ondiep
  • Zaanstad: Poelenburg