Utrecht, The Netherlands


The fourth largest city in the Netherlands, Utrecht faces key socio-economic challenges. About 38% percent of its population, or 17% of all households, either earns a minimal income or is dependent on social welfare. As with most cities, specific neighbourhoods pose heightened risk. In Utrecht, boroughs such as Kanaleneiland and Overvecht consist predominantly of high-rise housing developments and face higher than average crime rates..

Since 2015, preventative measures have been a priority for the city in the belief that the only way to effectively counter radicalisation and extremism is through an appropriate combination of repression and prevention.

Islamist extremism currently forms a major P/CVE concern. Approximately 40 individuals are being monitored by the “partner case consultation”, a collaboration between the municipality, the police, the National Coordinator for Counter Terrorism and Security and the Public Prosecutor. The city saw 18 of its citizens leave for Syria and Iraq, of which 10 have returned to Utrecht and 3 have died. A further 4 people were stopped before they could travel.


The Dutch National Coordinator for Security and Counterterrorism (NCTV) is responsible for analysing the national and international terrorist threat against the Netherlands. The NCTV issues threat assessments reports four times a year, which form the basis of the Dutch national counterterrorism strategy. The Dutch National Counterterrorism Strategy 2016-2020 outlines the broader counter terrorism strategy of the Netherlands for the current period. It identifies 5 “intervention areas”: acquire information; prevent; defend; prepare; and prosecute. For each of these areas, multi-agency structures are in place to ensure cooperation between different partners and government levels, including local governments and municipalities.

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The city of Utrecht deploys an inclusive approach to P/CVE which depends on cooperation between the municipality and multiple stakeholders. To illustrate their approach, the city has developed a framework that they call the 3-circle approach.

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Name: Jan Van Zanen

Role: Mayor of Utrecht