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Nienke Doornbos (Sociology of Law) and Denis Abels (criminal Law) will be evaluating the first community cour’ in the Netherlands. This innovative ‘people-oriented’ court opened this autumn in the neighbourhood of Oud-Woensel in Eindhoven.

This autumn, the Netherlands’ first community court opened in the Oud-Woensel neighbourhood in Eindhoven. In this court, the primary concern is the person behind the court case, rather than the crime with which they are charged. The goal of the community court is to help suspects with the problems that often drive criminal behaviour, such as drug addiction, psychological disorders and debt. The research is being conducted at the behest of the Oost Brabant district court.

Underlying issues

The Eindhoven community court (wijkrechtbank in Dutch) will take a problem-solving approach to crime in the neighbourhood. The court will focus on the suspect as an individual first. Led by the community judge, organisations such as the Municipality of Eindhoven, the Public Prosecution Service, lawyers, housing corporations, probation services, mental healthcare organisation GGZ and aid workers will work with the suspect to find solutions to underlying issues. The objectives are crime prevention and improved outcomes: personalised solutions, less recidivism and greater safety within the community. 


The evaluation by Nienke Doornbos and Denis Abels will be based on thorough legal research and empirical fieldwork consisting of observation of and interviews with individuals such as judges, public prosecutors, lawyers and suspects. The research project will have a term of 18 months and will conclude in June 2021.

More information on the community court in Eindhoven can be found on the court system website (in Dutch)