2022 Assembly


Dutch Public Prosecutor presents evidence gathered through web crawling


The Public Prosecution Service today demanded 36 months in prison against a 28-year-old man from the city of Kampen. He stood trial in Zwolle for making a 16-year-old girl work in prostitution. He is said to have helped her find a house to use for prostitution and drove her around for escort work.

This criminal case used evidence collected through the web crawling technique. When using this technique, the police automatically secure sex advertisements with signals of human trafficking from the internet.

“Three sex advertisements allegedly created by the suspect were found by the web crawler, containing a number of erotic photos that were allegedly taken by the suspect,” said the public prosecutor. “It concerns so-called ‘volatile data’, which did not come up when the administrator of the internet page was questioned, but did come up via the web crawler.” These sex ads have been added to the file as evidence.

Proposal in the House of Representatives
In June last year, a motion was passed in the Dutch parliament, requesting the government ‘to no longer postpone the widespread introduction of the web crawler to detect human trafficking’.

The National Rapporteur on Trafficking in Human Beings has also urged the police to have the web crawler implemented as soon as possible. The Public Prosecution Service has asked the Zwolle District Court to comment on the legal basis of the application of this means (and the legality of evidence obtained through this means).

Defendant says he did nothing criminal
“We call a person who helps a minor into prostitution as a human trafficker.” In his sentencing request, the public prosecutor emphasized that the suspect had committed a serious violation of the mental and physical integrity of the 16-year-old victim, while she also had to deal with an unstable home situation.

“Defendant did a lot of damage to the victim. He has used her to benefit himself financially, and in no way has he provided insight into the reprehensibility of his actions. In fact, he does everything he can to deny the criminality,” the officer motivated his sentence.

Public Prosecution Service News 22-03-2022