Safety is of paramount importance to enjoy visiting a foreign country. I live in The Netherland and feel very safe here, but I understand that you might want to get a bit more insight into the Netherlands’ safety if you consider visiting The Netherlands.
The Netherlands ranks among the safest countries in global safety indices. Violent crime and traffic accidents occur less than in other European countries. The Netherlands has a higher risk of flooding but is well protected by Delta Works.
Perhaps you feel already safe enough now to visit the Netherlands. If not, let’s discuss the various safety aspects in more detail to show you that the Netherlands is one of the safest countries in the world to visit.
How Is The Netherlands Ranking In Global Safety Indices?
Several global indices rank countries based on their safety. These safety scores weigh personal security, the risk of a natural disaster, and (the presence or absence of ) w.a.r and peace in a country. Each country’s safety score combines the indices from these three risks, presenting a comprehensive view of each country’s safety.
In general, countries with developed economies and health care systems score very well in global safety rankings. Economic development seems to decrease the risk of domestic crime or military conflict. Economic development also allows a country to pay for an excellent universal healthcare system, further increasing personal security.
This is why European countries with well-developed economies, like The Netherlands, usually rank at the top of these global safety indices.
Natural disasters are a function of geography and cannot be completely avoided. For example, a possible natural disaster for the Netherlands is flooding, but the Delta works have ensured that the latest major flooding in The Netherlands was 70 years ago.
Two of the best-known global safety indices for countries are:
- The latest version of the Global Safety Index of the Global Finance Journal was published in 2019. In this version, the Netherlands occupied number 31, a bit below the other Western European countries. This relatively low rating is due to the risk of flooding, even though major flooding has not happened in the Netherlands in the last 70 years because of the Delta works. As a comparison, the United States ranks 65th in this Global Safety Index due to its high number of annual h.o.m.i.c.i.d.e.s.
- There is a global safety index of countries, the Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection Index, that aggregates several other global safety indices into a single comprehensive country safety index. That allows to include a wide risk spectrum to provide a comprehensive interpretation of a country’s overall safety. In their latest update of January 2020, The Netherlands ranked 5th among the safest countries to visit.
What Is The Crime Rate In The Netherlands?
According to the Dutch police’s latest registration, the percentage of Dutch citizens who were victims of traditional crimes such as theft, burglary, and vandalism decreased to 13,8% in 2019.
I found this percentage of 13,8% rather high because I hardly ever hear about traditional crime except for stolen bikes. Criminality is concentrated in major cities like Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Utrecht, and The Hague. In the map below, the cities are dark blue, indicating more registered traditional criminality.
A large part of the crime rate in the Netherlands is due to the theft of bikes. Bike theft is a serious problem in The Netherlands, especially in major cities. It is estimated that approximately 0,5 million bikes are stolen per year out of the 18 million bikes in total. That means that around 2,7% of all bikes are stolen annually. The more expansive e-bikes are most popular among thieves, and you should lock your bike securely if you are not using it.
Like in every other country, you should also be watching out for pickpocketing in bigger cities. It is a matter of common sense to protect your wallet carefully in a big city.
source: CBS, 2020
Cybercrime (identity theft, internet fraud, hacking, etc.) is increasing in the Netherlands, but fortunately, that will be less of a problem for tourists visiting the Netherlands.
H.o.m.i.c.i.d.e.s in The Netherlands
Fortunately, the number of h.o.m.i.c.i.d.e.s in the Netherlands is relatively low, with 100-120 victims annually over the last few years. Thus, the h.o.m.i.c.i.d.e rate of 0.8 victims / 100.000 inhabitants in The Netherlands is low compared to other European countries and the United States. In addition, there are hardly ever mass s.h.o.o.t.i.n.g.s in The Netherlands.
See the table below to compare h.o.m.i.c.i.d.e rates in different countries in h.o.m.i.c.i.d.e victims / 100.000 inhabitants.
Country – homicide rate
Russia – 9,2
Ukraine – 6,2
United States – 4,8
Belgium – 1,3
France – 1,3
United Kingdom – 1,2
Germany – 1,0
The Netherlands – 0,8
Switzerland – 0,5
Luxembourg – 0,3
The Netherlands ranks among the safer countries when it comes to h.o.m.i.c.i.d.e.s. For a large part, due to the Dutch law prohibiting weapons (g.u.n.s and knives) in The Netherlands.
Are Natural Disasters In The Netherlands Common?
According to the World Risk Index, the Netherlands has the highest chance of a natural disaster of all European countries. Nevertheless, natural disasters in the Netherlands are extremely rare.
Of course, with 26% of the country below sea level, the chance of flooding is not theoretical. However, the latest large-scale flooding occurred about 70 years ago when large parts of Zeeland were flooded, and 1800 lives were l.o.s.t.
After this national disaster, The Netherlands build the world-famous Delta works, one of the 7 modern wonders of the world, to protect its low-lying regions against flooding. After the completion of the Delta works, floodings have never occurred again in The Netherlands.
The Netherlands is exposed to the theoretical risk of flooding, but I believe we coped pretty well with this risk by building a world-class defense system to protect The Netherlands against the water.
Climate change may increase the sea level in the future, leading to increased chances of future flooding in The Netherlands. However, with an average annual increase of the sea level of 4 millimeters per year, that does not seem to be a real risk in the foreseeable future. Dutch water engineers are already planning to prepare the water defenses of The Netherlands for the coming century.
How Is Traffic Safety In The Netherlands?
Traffic accidents annually cause more than 600 d.e.a.t.h.s and 20.000 serious injuries in the Netherlands over the last few years. More than 600 d.e.a.t.h.s per year are equal to 34 f.a.t.a.l.i.t.i.e.s per million inhabitants.
Although every traffic f.a.t.a.l.i.t.y is one too many, Dutch traffic f.a.t.a.l.i.t.i.e.s are well below the EU average of 51 f.a.t.a.l.i.t.i.e.s / million inhabitants (see table below with an overview of traffic f.a.t.a.l.i.t.i.e.s per million inhabitants in selected Europa.
Country – Traffic F.a.t.a.l.i.t.i.e.s in 2019
Sweden 22 / million inhabitants
Netherlands 34 / million inhabitants
Germany 37 / million inhabitants
France 48 / million inhabitants
EU average 51 / million inhabitants
Romania 96 / million inhabitants
It is good to see that the Netherlands ranks among the safest countries for traffic accidents. Recently, the maximum speed levels on highways have been decreased to 100 km/hour during the day. We all hope that this will further decrease the number of f.a.t.a.l traffic accidents in the coming years.
Almost two-thirds of the 20.000+ seriously injured people are cyclists, and the relative number of injured bikers in The Netherlands is higher than in other western-European countries. The vast majority of bikers are injured in a crash in which no motor vehicle is involved. That may be surprising if you realize that we have the most extensive network of separate biking lanes.
However, there are two reasons for this high number of biking injuries.
- The number of serious injuries of cyclists has been steadily increasing since the appearance of e-bikes, which allowed cyclists to achieve much higher speeds. If you rent an e-bike during your vacation in The Netherlands and are not used to one, be extra careful because you will go much faster than expected.
- One other reason for the relatively high number of biking accidents is the incredibly high number of bikes in The Netherlands, and they are used intensively. There are even more bikes than inhabitants in this country because many people have more than one bike.
The video went viral on Youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CLurEnjOeMo&t=8s (about 800.000 views) and is very funny, but there is also a serious message. If you are not used to traffic with many bikers, you may run into one unexpectedly. So watch out for bikes when you are visiting The Netherlands and avoid getting hurt!
Is The Netherlands Safe With Respect To The Corona Virus?
The Netherlands is suffering from Coronavirus like all other countries in Western Europe. In general, it seems that The Netherlands is a very average Western European country when it comes to Coronavirus risks. Fortunately, the number of vaccinations is increasing rapidly in early 2021, and we all hope that life will soon return to normal.
Is Tap Water In The Netherlands Safe To Drink?
The quality of Dutch tap water is good, and it is very safe to drink. This is due to the quality requirements set by the Dutch government for tap water. Dutch tap water meets the quality requirements more than 99.9% of the time.
International research demonstrated that the Dutch tap water quality is much better than in England and the United States.
- This is largely due to the quality of the water pipes. Maintenance of water pipes is a top priority in The Netherlands. Because the pipes hardly show any leaks, harmful substances and pathogens cannot enter the tap water.
- During the purification of tap water in the Netherlands, the tap water is treated with UV-light to kill bacteria and viruses. This step eliminates the need to add chlorine to the tap water, which increases the tap water’s taste and quality. That is an important difference with other countries.
I never buy or drink bottled water. Instead, I have a bottle of tap water in the fridge that I refill with tap water when needed.
By: Pim/ netherlandsinsiders.com