In September 2009, researchers from the University of Utrecht published the report “Marokkaanse jeugddelinquenten: een klasse apart?” (“Moroccan youth offenders: a class apart?“). A terrible whitewash, culminating in an item on Dutch national TV (news show NOVA) with researcher Gonneke Stevens. After an introduction by Stevens the interviewer said: “Simply put: Moroccans steal more; Dutch rape more and commit more senseless violence and all kinds of other scary things.” The researcher said: “If you would like to put it this way, you can say so, yes.”
That was pure deception. Moroccan adolescents commit on average more often than Dutch adolescents also the more serious crimes; this even emerges from raw data contained in the report by Stevens. I have then urged the researcher to rectify her public statement. She did not answer. I filed a complaint for academic fraud with the Executive Board (CvB) of the university. In December the Commission on Scientific Integrity (CWI) heard me (and thereafter the researchers).
In March 2010, the CWI sent out a preliminary conclusion. It includes:
The researchers indicate that they systematically talk in their report and the publicity about about boys in custody. The sentences from the Nova interview quoted by Mr Van Delft were taken out of context, and only by presenting these phrases in isolation may give the impression that Mr Van Delft describes.
I extensively wrote back that this defense was untenable, both theoretically and practically. But the CWI ignored this comment in its final conclusion. In June 2010, the Executive Board rejected my complaint .
I went in appeal to the National Committee for Scientific Integrity (LOWI), set by the KNAW (Royal Dutch Academy of Sciences) and the universities. In November I was heard in a confidential meeting. Recording video or sound was not allowed. The untenable defense was one of the topics discussed.
In January 2011, I received a copy the advice that the LOWI sent to the Executive Board of the University of Utrecht. It contained a false representation of the hearing. Nothing about the crucial untenability of the defense. Instead LOWI chairman Kees Schuyt made up that I would have opposed the study for its low social relevance. Schuyt twisted my words, and he made me look like an enemy of academic freedom. I wrote Schuyt a letter about this and received an unsatisfactory answer from him.
In the summer of 2011 I appealed to the National Ombudsman. I lost; I asked for a reassessment, but in vain. I finally decided to publish extensively on this matter. To this end, I emailed some questions to Professor Doreleijers, who was named in the disputed report as chairman of the supervisory committee. He replied that he had not been member of that committee. After further questioning Doreleijers and the university it came clear that for a short time he had been chairman of the supervisory committee, but he resigned because of conflicting interests. It also came clear that the supervisory committee had not given a formal approval to the report.
In the report, the members of the supervisory committee where thanked, with their names, positions and roles. This aroused the impression that the report had a certain quality stamp, while it did not have one. Article 225 of the Dutch Criminal Code, paragraph 1:
He who falsely produces or forges a document which is intended to prove any fact, with the intention to use it or have others use it as if it were genuine and truthful, shall be guilty of forgery punished with imprisonment not exceeding six years or a fine of the fifth category.
A cause for me to report this to the Chief Public Prosecutor in Utrecht.
Publication in Psychology, Crime and Law
Chapter 2 of the contested report mentions in a footnote:
This chapter is adapted from: Veen, VC, Stevens, GWJM, Doreleijers, Th.AH, & Vollebergh, WAM (submitted for publication). Moroccan adolescent offenders in the Netherlands: Ethnic differences in offender profiles.
Indeed, this has led to a publication:
Veen, VC, Stevens, GWJM, Doreleijers, TA, & Vollebergh, WAM (2011). Moroccan adolescent suspect offenders in the Netherlands: Ethnic differences in offender profiles. Psychology, Crime and Law, 17, 545-561
There is a big difference with the Dutch report: Professor Doreleijers is mentioned as one of the authors. He is deeply involved in this study. So much for the worse that his 3 co-authors thank him as chairman of the supervisory committee in the Dutch report. Doreleijers had not mentioned this publication in Psychology, Crime and Law in his emails to me.
The abstract of the published paper mentions the same misleading research question:
Offending patterns … or incarcerated native Dutch adolescents and adolescents of Moroccan origin were compared …
and the corresponding misleading finding:
Mainly … Property offenders were Moroccan adolescents, the other offender types Predominantly consisted of native Dutch adolescents …
In the conclusion, the researchers say that it is important for the public to disclose that criminal behavior of young Moroccans is generally less severe than the criminal behavior of indigenous young people:
Despite these limitations, the findings presented here point to the fact that Moroccan and native Dutch adolescents have highly distinctive offender profiles, showing that ethnic differences in the nature of crime cannot be ignored in research comparing the development of delinquent behaviour in ethnic minority and majority youths.
Moreover, the finding that Moroccan adolescents are far more often incarcerated for property offences than Dutch native adolescents, which could be seen as a relatively less serious type of crime, is of societal importance. Firstly, for the public opinion on crime in ethnic minority groups, it is important to make known that although Moroccan adolescents are more often incarcerated than Dutch native adolescents, their criminal behaviour overall is less serious than the criminal behaviour of Dutch native youths.
As seen, this is a untrue. The publication in the journal feigns to substantiate this with 3 pages of statistical analyses. These correlated the percentages of offense types as committed by the later detained adolescents with their ethnic background. It says nothing about “crime in ethnic minority groups (…) their criminal behavior overall”. The authors twisted the fact that Moroccan youth is significantly more prone to serious criminal conduct, to the contrary.
On 8 January 2013 Frans Groenendijk and I have requested the editors of Psychology, Crime and Law to retract the paper.
Below are a timeline and links to relevant documents.
2009-09-08Stevens e.a.PublicPresentation report about Marokkan adolescent offendersWebsite
|2009-02-03||Stevens e.a.||Psychology, Crime & Law||Paper submission||Website|
|2009-09-08||GeenStijl||Public||Comment on report||Website|
|2009-09-08||NOVA TV||Public||Interview with Stevens||Website|
|2009-09-09||Van Delft||Stevens||Call for rectification NOVA interview|
|2009-09-14||Çörü, Sterk||Minister of Justice||Parlement questions||Website|
|2009-09-25||Paul Andersson Toussaint||Public||Comment on report||Website|
|2009-10-06||Van Delft||CvB UU||Complaint about Stevens|
|2009-10-10||Psychology, Crime & Law||Stevens e.a.||Paper accepted for publication||Website|
|2009-12-01||Van Delft||CWI UU||Plea for hearing|
|2010-03-05||CWI UU||Van Delft||Preliminary conclusion|
|2010-03-10||Stevens||CWI UU||Reaction to preliminary conclusion|
|2010-03-12||Van Delft||CWI UU||Reaction to preliminary conclusion|
|2010-05-28||CWI UU||Van Delft||Final conclusion|
|2010-06-23||CvB UU||Van Delft||First ruling|
|2010-07-01||Van Delft||LOWI||Complaint about ruling CvB UU|
|2010-11-02||Van Delft||Public||Report hearing at LOWI|
|2011-01-18||CvB UU||Van Delft||Final ruling|
|2011-01-28||Van Delft||LOWI||Complaint about LOWI|
|2011-02-14||LOWI||Van Delft||Reaction to complaint|
|2011-03-03||Psychology, Crime & Law||Public||Published paper||Website|
|2011-05-25||Van Hintum||Public||VK Column: How fundamental are problems in ‘Moroccan communities’||Website|
|2011-05-25||Van Delft||Public||Reaction in Volkskrant to column Malou van Hintum|
|2011-06-14||Van Delft||National Ombudsman||Complaint about UU|
|2011-07-19||National Ombudsman||Van Delft||Rejection complaint|
|2011-08-17||Van Delft||National Ombudsman||Request for reassesment|
|2011-11-15||National Ombudsman||Van Delft||Final rejection|
|2012-02-24||Van Delft||Dorelijers||Questions about supervisory committee|
|2012-03-04||Dorelijers||Van Delft||Answer about supervisory committee||*)|
|2012-03-04||Van Delft||Dorelijers, Vollebergh||Questions about presidency supervisory committee|
|2012-03-05||Vollebergh||Van Delft||Answer about presidency supervisory committee||*)|
|2012-03-18||Van Delft||Dorelijers||Questions about presidency supervisory committee|
|2012-03-28||Van Delft||CvB UU||Questions about presidency supervisory committee|
|2012-04-07||Dorelijers||Van Delft||Answer about presidency supervisory committee||*)|
|2012-04-07||Van Delft||CvB UU||Questions about presidency supervisory committee|
|2012-04-10||CvB UU||Van Delft||Answer about presidency supervisory committee|
|2012-04-15||Van Delft||CvB UU||Questions about presidency supervisory committee|
|2012-05-11||CvB UU||Van Delft||Answer about presidency supervisory committee|
|2012-11-06||Van Delft, Groenendijk||Chief Public Prosecutor||Filing for forgery|
|2012-11-06||Van Delft, Groenendijk||Press||Press about filing for forgery|
|2013-01-08||Van Delft, Groenendijk||Psychology, Crime and Law||Request for paper retraction||Website|
*) these are emails. Dorelijers and Vollebergh have not given permission for publication. In the context of a possible lawsuit, these mails may be handed if necessary.