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The Underworld Map

What does a high score mean? And four other questions about the Underworld map

RTL Nieuws used the Underworld Map of the Netherlands to investigate how vulnerable residents, businesses and municipalities are to subversive crime. But what is that actually? What does a high or low score mean and how did it come about? Five questions about the Underworld map.

1. What does the Underworld map measure?

The Underworld Map compares municipalities on the basis of their vulnerability to subversive crime.

In order to be able to compare municipalities properly, data have been converted into the share of the number of inhabitants, buildings or business establishments in a municipality. So it's not about absolute numbers. For example, 2,530 buildings in Utrecht are owned by a convicted owner. On Urk there are much fewer with 440. But in the latter case it concerns 7.5 percent of all buildings, in Utrecht it is 2.8 percent.

Certain neighborhoods and districts within a municipality may differ. However, only limited data are available at district or neighborhood level. Moreover, municipalities are often looked at for tackling subversive crime.

2. My municipality scores high, what does that mean?

This means that the risk of subversive crime is higher than in other municipalities in the country. It does not have to mean that there is actually a lot of subversive crime. Subversion is often invisible. It is sometimes said that you will only see it when you realize it.

That is precisely why RTL Nieuws also looked at factors that make a person, company or municipality vulnerable. Think of an empty barn in a rural area or a household with problematic debts.

The barn is attractive for establishing a hemp farm or drug lab. The indebted family is vulnerable, because criminal money seems to be an easy solution to the problems. However, criminals always expect something in return. When someone bites, there is often no going back.

A high score means that a municipality has many vulnerable residents, businesses or circumstances. With a low score, that risk is more limited, but it does not mean that there is no subversive crime. Undermining can also occur in the least vulnerable municipalities.

3. Why did you make the Underworld map?

In recent years, much attention has been paid to criminal subversion. This is because crime is becoming more visible to more and more people. Think of hemp plantations or drug labs or shady shops in the area. 

Governments are devoting more and more money and attention to tackling criminal subversion. But it is often invisible and elusive. To make the invisible more visible, we have created the Underworld map. The focus is therefore on the vulnerability of residents, businesses and municipalities. 

"We have tried for the first time to map a problem that many people do not see nationwide," says crime journalist Koen Voskuil of RTL Nieuws. "We hope that the Underworld Map helps residents and businesses to recognize signs of subversive crime and that municipalities use it to see where they stand and what makes them vulnerable."

4. How was the Underworld map created?

The research editors of RTL Nieuws have collected all kinds of data on subversive crime or the risks thereof for all municipalities in the Netherlands. Together with data scientists, criminologists and experts in the field of subversion, 20 indicators were ultimately selected that say something about the risk of subversion.

Sometimes an indicator says something about what has been registered, such as the number of arms trade cases, the number of reports to Meld Misdaad Anoniem or the number of convicted drug criminals. Other indicators say something about circumstances that make you vulnerable, such as vacancy or debts. An indicator can also make a positive contribution. This applies, for example, to social cohesion. 

One indicator weighs more than the other. Ultimately, the 20 indicators together lead to a risk score per municipality. You can read exactly how we arrived at that score and what considerations were made in our extensive accountability (pdf).

5. How do I recognize and prevent undermining myself?

There are all kinds of signals of criminal undermining that you may not immediately consider yourself. In an interactive quiz (in Dutch) you can test what you know about subversive crime.