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  • Print publication year: 2017
  • Online publication date: October 2018

Chapter 7 - Establishment of Criminology in the Netherlands and Belgium



When one compares the development of modern criminology in the Netherlands and Belgium with its evolution in neighbouring countries, it is striking how in the Low Countries that discipline gradually became widely established in universities in the first half of the twentieth century and to some extent also in the criminal justice system. Why it developed in that way is not that easy to say. The fact, for example, that Von Liszt had such major allies, specifically in the Netherlands and Belgium in the persons of Van Hamel and Prins as regards innovation in the area of criminal law, suggests that he perceived a spirit of openness in those two countries that he did not immediately find elsewhere in Europe.

That openness will certainly have promoted the fruitful development of criminology in both countries but it cannot have been the sole cause of that success. Anyone who knows something of what actually happened in the field of criminology and the criminal justice system on both sides of the Belgian – Dutch border between 1880 and 1960 will realise that there are not only great similarities but also significant diff erences. It is highly likely that other factors also played an important role. But in any case, the history of criminology in the one country cannot simply be lumped together with that in the other. 1 In this chapter, the developments in each country will therefore be discussed separately.

A sketch will first be given of the rise of criminology, based on the biobibliography of the main driving forces behind it. Second, we will deal with the controversies that this led to in the scientific, political, and administrative worlds regarding the relationship between the principles of some variants of this new discipline and the foundations of the existing criminal law and criminal justice system. Third, we will discuss how criminology nevertheless had an impact, directly and indirectly, on certain aspects of the redesign of the criminal justice system and, more broadly, on the containment of crime. Fourth, an account will be given of how criminology became successfully established in universities in the 1930s.

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