Dutch criminologists lied

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.

On May 24, 2011 Malou Hintum wrote an unfortunate column in the national newspaper De Volkskrant, unwittingly confirming my contention that the report misleads people.

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

Through the publisher this costs 33 euros; as of January 2013 it is available here at the VU university for free .

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

JJJJ-MM-DD From To Item
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 PDF
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 PDF
2009-10-10 Psychology, Crime & Law Stevens e.a. Paper accepted for publication Website
2009-12-01 Van Delft CWI UU Plea for hearing PDF
2010-03-05 CWI UU Van Delft Preliminary conclusion PDF
2010-03-10 Stevens CWI UU Reaction to preliminary conclusion PDF
2010-03-12 Van Delft CWI UU Reaction to preliminary conclusion PDF
2010-05-28 CWI UU Van Delft Final conclusion PDF
2010-06-23 CvB UU Van Delft First ruling PDF
2010-07-01 Van Delft LOWI Complaint about ruling CvB UU PDF
2010-11-02 Van Delft Public Report hearing at LOWI PDF
2011-01-06 LOWI CvB UU Advice PDF
2011-01-18 CvB UU Van Delft Final ruling PDF
2011-01-28 Van Delft LOWI Complaint about LOWI PDF
2011-02-14 LOWI Van Delft Reaction to complaint PDF
2011-03-01 LOWI Public Anonymised advice Website
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 PDF
2011-06-14 Van Delft National Ombudsman Complaint about UU PDF
2011-07-19 National Ombudsman Van Delft Rejection complaint PDF
2011-08-17 Van Delft National Ombudsman Request for reassesment PDF
2011-11-15 National Ombudsman Van Delft Final rejection PDF
2012-02-24 Van Delft Dorelijers Questions about supervisory committee PDF
2012-03-04 Dorelijers Van Delft Answer about supervisory committee  *)
2012-03-04 Van Delft Dorelijers, Vollebergh Questions about presidency supervisory committee PDF
2012-03-05 Vollebergh Van Delft Answer about presidency supervisory committee  *)
2012-03-18 Van Delft Dorelijers Questions about presidency supervisory committee PDF
2012-03-28 Van Delft CvB UU Questions about presidency supervisory committee PDF
2012-04-07 Dorelijers Van Delft Answer about presidency supervisory committee  *)
2012-04-07 Van Delft CvB UU Questions about presidency supervisory committee PDF
2012-04-10 CvB UU Van Delft Answer about presidency supervisory committee PDF
2012-04-15 Van Delft CvB UU Questions about presidency supervisory committee PDF
2012-05-11 CvB UU Van Delft Answer about presidency supervisory committee PDF
2012-11-06 Van Delft, Groenendijk Chief Public Prosecutor Filing for forgery PDF
2012-11-06 Van Delft, Groenendijk Press Press about filing for forgery PDF
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.

2 reacties op “Dutch criminologists lied

  1. Als je echt wilt dat ze door hun knieën gaan, dan moet je uit het Nederlandse inteelt netwerk treden en een artikel proberen te publiceren in een Amerikaans blad over de erbarmelijke toestand van het werk van Nederlandse psychologen en met name over deze opzettelijk discriminerende onware aannames richting autochtone Nederlanders. Na Stapel willen ze hier vast nog wel meer over horen en de makers van het broddelwerk zijn dan in één klap hun hele carrière kwijt als de grote jongens er wat over te zeggen hebben.

  2. Toevallig vandaag het concept afgerond voor een artikel in een internationaal tijdschrift: dat verzenden we deze week.
    Toevallig óók vandaag bericht van een Nederlands tijdschrift dat ze een bijdrage van ons zullen plaatsen.
    Overigens is de iets minder bekende ‘zaak Smeesters’ aan het licht gekomen dankzij een statistisch onderlegde fraudbuster uit de VS.

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