Background: In England, rates of involuntary admissions increased in subgroups of patients. It is unknown whether this is true in other European countries. Aims: To establish whether the increase in emergency commitments was uniform across subgroups of patients and dangerousness criteria used to justify commitment in The Netherlands. Method: National data on all commitments in the period 2000-2004. Results: Commitments increased from 40.2 to 46.5 (16%) per 100,000 inhabitants. Controlling for population changes in age and sex, relatively large increases were found in patients over 50 years (25-40% increase), in patients with dementia (59%), 'other organic mental disorders' (40%) and substance abuse (36%). 'Arousing aggression', increased most strongly as a dangerousness criterion for commitment (30%). Conclusion: Changing patterns of commitments in The Netherlands and England might indicate a wider European shift in diagnoses and reasons for admission of committed patients. © 2008 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.