Directive on the Investigation and Prosecution of Sexual Abuse (2010A026)
This Directive emphasizes the process of fact-finding and a professional approach to those who report sexual offences and any others involved in vice cases. The Directive includes rules regarding the detection and prosecution of sexual abuse, both in cases where the person making the report and the suspect know each other, and in cases where they do not know each other.
The phrase ‘sexual abuse in a personal relationship' is used to refer to forms of abuse in which acts of a sexual nature have been committed and the person making the report stands, or has stood, in some relationship to the suspect. This includes, at any rate, the cases of indecency involving abuse of authority as referred to in Section 249 of the Dutch Penal Code, but also cases of abuse in which the person making the report and the suspect know each other (if only by name or by sight). In these situations, in which the suspect's name is known, "a period of reflection" will in general be possible or necessary.
In cases of sexual abuse in which the person making the report and the suspect do not know each other (an "unknown suspect"), the focus will be more on tracking down and identifying the suspect.
In previous Directives the term "victim" was used. Although in many vice cases there is indeed a victim who has suffered serious harm, the present Directive uses the neutral term ‘person making a report'. This term does more justice to the striving for objectivity in the fact-finding process. Using the term "victim" might give the impression of siding with the (defenceless) victim. Observing with professional distance from an objective perspective makes it possible to regard the person reporting a sexual offence as an important witness and a possible carrier of valuable traces, while remaining open to the possibility that a report of a crime may be incorrect (either deliberately [false charge], or unconsciously). The fact that this Directive uses the term "persons reporting crimes" does not alter the fact that the rights of victims also apply to those who report sexual crimes. These rights will be set out in the Section ‘Care of Victims' and in the Directive on the Care of Victims.
The Directive on the Investigation and Prosecution of Sexual Abuse is in line with the Lanzarote Convention on the Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse.
If there is any doubt about the truthfulness of a report or if uncertainties or lacunae remain in the report, it is advisable to consult colleagues before the investigation actually starts. This applies both to the police and the Public Prosecution Service because in vice cases a sense of individual responsibility may carry a risk of too much involvement, which may lead to tunnel vision.