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Undermining criminality

20 June 2022
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Rotterdam is the biggest port in Europe. There are very considerable commercial interests at stake in all the big, busy logistics hubs in and around the port. This also makes them attractive to criminals. Criminality damages the port of Rotterdam's reputation for being safe and healthy – a good place to live, work and set up a business.

That's why we're committed to making the port a safe, healthy and an attractive location for everyone. The Dutch government, the port's business community and partners in the chain are closely collaborating to realise these goals.

Partners against drug crime

Together we want to eradicate the illegal import of drugs and the associated detrimental consequences, while making port of Rotterdam personnel more resilient to criminal advances. Such a crucial campaign demands focus, effectiveness and determination from all the stakeholders. The government and business community must ensure, to the extent possible, that the port of Rotterdam becomes unattractive to criminal gangs. Each of the parties have been assigned their own tasks and responsibilities in achieving this. On the initiative of the Haventafel, a joint plan has been drawn up by the City of Rotterdam, Dutch Customs, the Seaport Police, the Public Prosecutor's Office, FIOD, RIEC, DHMR, Port of Rotterdam Authority and Deltalinqs. We're also working closely with other west European ports.

Selected projects

  • Deploying smart technology for better monitoring of the Maasvlakte
  • Information campaign to raise awareness among port staff about the risks of bribery and undermining criminality
  • Sharing information from Customs, Seaport Police, Port of Rotterdam Authority and businesses in order mount the best possible security barriers to criminals
  • Strengthening the Port Community System in order to, among other things, combat data fraud and disrupt illegal pick-ups of drugs and containers

Who has what role in tackling undermining criminality?

The port's business community – in partnership with Port of Rotterdam Authority, Deltalinqs and interest groups for shippers, terminals and transporters – is working to beef up data security and the security of port sites. The Rotterdam Harbour Master Division (DHMR) is the department of the Port of Rotterdam Authority responsible for safe and efficient transit of shipping through the port of Rotterdam. Security at the port is under the surveillance of the Seaport Police, Dutch Customs and the DHMR 24/7. Monitoring is carried out with the aid of patrol boats, CCTV and radar imaging, but also by inspections of vessels and terminals, and surveillance of companies with a mandatory ISPS requirement.


The Port Authority is responsible for assigning port sites. When doing so, we carefully weigh up the security risks, plus the best risk management strategy for handling those risks. For example, by enforcing measures in a timely manner and investing more in security. Or actions like screening tenants using 'Ken je klant'. We also look at where the best places are for installing cameras in partnership with the police in order to further improve surveillance.

More and more drugs intercepted

In recent years, there has been a further rise in the volume of drugs intercepted. In 2021, we seized roughly 70 tons of cocaine – a new record. But this is just the tip of the iceberg. The street value of the cocaine seized in Rotterdam alone comes to about 3.5 billion euros. The total value of all the illegal drugs trafficked through the port is exponentially higher. It seems that these drug seizures are not really hampering criminal activities. They still have barrels of cash and are inventive in finding ways to get the drugs into the country. Despite the increasing volume of drugs seized, the street price has not changed. Which likely means there is plenty on offer. Of the imported cocaine, about 10% is destined for the Dutch market, while the remainder is shipped to other European countries.

Concerns about criminality in the port of Rotterdam

Drug trafficking and the accompanying criminality undermine and threaten our society. Not only does drug use have a devastating effect on people and the social fabric, the drug trade is increasingly goes hand in hand with intimidation, threats, bribery and violent deaths. The problems caused by drug-related crime have also risen substantially in recent years. It disrupts logistic processes when, among other things, drug 'collectors' trespass terminals, and by the fear that slowly creeps into the port when illegal operators engage in intimidation and bribery. Companies and staff members are afraid that this could happen to them too, because recruiting and threatening port personnel is no longer the exception. Some staff members have decided to find jobs in other sectors because of these dangers. Undermining criminality forms a real and present danger that threatens Rotterdam's good business climate.