Discouraging Drug Tourism and Nuisance in The Netherlands

"In the city of Venlo (province of Limburg), on the Dutch-German border, the Hektor Project to combat drug-related crime and nuisance at the local level, started in 2001 and was extended several times, first by a combined contribution of the central and municipal government, but since 2010 Hektor is only financed by the local government. Its purpose was to diminish public nuisance mostly caused by German drug tourists. The project operated on three levels. One level aimed at diminishing public nuisance by tracking down and closing non-tolerated points of sale (administrative enforcement) and step up action against drug-related crime. The second level had to do with the redevelopment of parts of the city centre to make it more attractive to new investment. The third level of the project concentrated on redefining the local coffee shop policy. In 2007 three illegal drug trade venues were closed. The experienced drug related nuisance diminished significantly in the centre of the town since two coffee shops were relocated in 2005. Because the illegal drug trade shifted to other parts of the town, it was decided in 2007 to extend the Hektor-approach to all parts of the town of Venlo. The municipal authorities, the police, the Public Prosecution Service and the Tax and Customs are cooperating to tackle illegal drug trade and public nuisance caused by drug tourists. According to the third evaluation of the Hektor project, which was carried out before the introduction of new Dutch coffee shop policy, it is possible to diminish illegal street trade and drug related public nuisance in a Dutch border town by the approach chosen in Hektor (Snippe 2012).
"Another project to combat drug related nuisance, which started as a pilot project but was continued since 2003, is the Courage Project of the municipalities of Roosendaal and Bergen op Zoom near the border with Belgium in the province of North Brabant. One of the results of this project was that the mayors of both municipalities decided in September 2009 to close down the four tolerated coffee shops. However, the Courage Project was continued among others with a monitor called the Drugsscan, in order to follow the developments. Since the closure of the coffee shops 95 per cent of the drug tourists disappeared from the street scene. The Courage Team shifted the emphasis from drug related public nuisance to investigating drug related criminality. In 2011 narcotics for the amount of 7 million euro were confiscated and dispossessions for the amount of 600,000 euro were collected (Courage 2012; www.courage.nu)."


Van Laar, M.W., Cruts, A.A.N., Van Ooyen-Houben, M.M.J., Van Gageldonk, A., Croes, E.A., Meijer, R.F., et al. (2013). The Netherlands drug situation 2012: report to the EMCDDA by the Reitox National Focal Point. Trimbos-instituut/WODC, Utrecht/Den Haag, p. 24.