In 2015, Amsterdam launched the ‘Top400′ (following the Top600 in 2011), a crime prevention approach through which the municipality and implementing partners structurally intervene in the lives of children and young adults.
The Top400 is a list of ‘high potential’ minors who have not been convicted of serious offences (as was the case with the Top600). The minors are monitored by, among others, the Amsterdam municipality, the police, the Public Health Service (GGD) and youth protection services. A director is assigned to them who, among other things, discusses their progress within a core team of chain partners. According to the municipality, the aim of the Top400 approach is to prevent these minors from coming into contact with the police around high-impact offences.
For placement on the Top400 list, criteria have been developed that the minors must meet. The so-called ‘ProKid+’ algorithm was also used to complete the list and place 125 children and young people on the list. The Top400 approach also ‘includes’ younger siblings, even if they do not meet the criteria.
It is therefore explicitely not a criterion for selection for the Top400 that minors have committed a criminal offence. Selection criteria include: having changed primary school three times; being or having been under supervision and being suspected of a crime or being arrested as a suspect once. In the case of the ProKid+ group, selection criteria such as ‘victim or witness of a crime’ and ‘police contacts of co-residents of the young person at the last known residential address’ were also applied for inclusion in the Top400 list.
Potential human rights violations the Top400
The Top400 approach is presented by its implementers as a form of care, which would involve keeping the children and young people in question on the straight and narrow. However, the approach seems to focus mainly and sometimes even solely on surveillance, repression and security.
It is also striking that the voices, experiences and needs of the minors and their families seem to be completely absent.
There therefore appear to be serious problems of human rights, discrimination, access to justice and privacy in the structure of the Top400.
What does the PILP do?
PILP-NJCM is looking at the Top400 on behalf of and together with several NGOs, journalists and researchers. PILP, after being made aware of some worrying signs, submitted a FOIA request on the Top400 on 7 January 2020 and, after starting court proceedings, eventually received all the documents.
Researcher Fieke Jansen analysed (as part of the ERC Data Justice Project) the FOIA documents for and with PILP and wrote a report on them, with some critical recommendations. Cooperating partners include Mamamess, Control Alt Delete, Bits of Freedom, and Fair Trials.
The work of PILP and its partners on this file contributed to the documentary Mothers by Nirit Peled, which is showing at IDFA this week.
On behalf of NGOs, PILP-NJCM sent a letter of objection on 21 September 2022 to the City of Amsterdam and the partners in the Top400. This is to secure possible proceedings on the Top400 in the future. No proceedings have been initiated yet.
Currently, PILP is meeting with people affected by the Top400 to see what this community needs and to explore the possibilities of possible strategic proceedings. PILP calls on anyone who is, or thinks they are, on the TOP400 list. Parents/guardians/young people can contact PILP at: firstname.lastname@example.org or they can call 020-5252966.
Some interesting articles about the Top400 appeared in Trouw, Parool and the Groene Amsterdammer.
On November 11, 2022, Fieke Jansen’s report on the Top400 FOIA documents was released.
On November 10, 2022, the documentary “Mothers” by Nirit Peled will premiere at IDFA film festival on the impact of the Top400 on the youth and their families (mothers).
On September 21, 2022, PILP sent a letter of objection to the City of Amsterdam and the partners in the Top400. This is to secure possible proceedings about the Top400 in the future. No proceedings have yet been initiated.
On January 7, 2020, PILP filed a FOIA request to the Top400 and eventually received all the documents, after starting court proceedings.