The Netherlands is suffering an unusual crime problem: there isn’t enough of it to fill prisons.

Figures from the Dutch ministry of justice released on Monday suggest overall crime will drop by 0.9 per cent a year in the next five years.

Since a third of its 13,500 prison cells are unfilled, this means five prisons will definitely close, and the prison workers’ union, FNV, fears 1,900 jail workers will lose their jobs, while 700 could become “mobile” employees based in more than one location.

“More than a third of cells are not used, and the predictions are that it is going to get worse,” said Jaap Oosterveer, a spokesman for the ministry of justice. “Obviously, from a social perspective, it is better because crime is down, but if you work in jails, it is not good news.”

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