Police tweets criticizing Dutch Justice Minister taken offline


The Dutch police took tweets in which a police chief criticized Security and Justice Minister Ard van der Steur offline on Sunday, a spokesperson for the Hague police said to AD. In the tweet the police chief reacted with annoyance to Van der Steur calling violence against emergency services personnel "unacceptable".

New Year's in the Netherlands saw nearly 80 incidents of police officers being pelted with stones and fireworks as they attended to their duties. Other emergency services personnel, including firefighters and paramedics, were given the same treatment.

On Twitter Van der Steur wrote: "Great appreciation for the efforts of our emergency services during New Year. Unacceptable that violence was used against them."

This sentiment did not go down well with various police officers. The team leader of police team Segbroek Hague responded: "Sometimes it suits you better to remain quiet. That is now. Resources to do the job are substandard and no political support."

The tweet was later removed. A spokesperson for the Hague police told AD that the police officer wrote the tweet after a very long night working night shift over New Year's. During the night he had to deal with violence used against his officers. The spokesperson added that contact between individual officers and the Minister happens through the unions.

Other police officers also responded to Van der Steur's words with annoyance. "And now? Ard van der Steur is that the end of it? It's disgusting what these perpetrators did!!! Actions rather than words!" another police officer wrote on Twitter.

Deputy chief of police Henk van Essen called it alarming and unacceptable that police and other first responders were attacked while working over New Year's. "These people are there for everyone's safety. You need to leave them alone. I find it too bizarre for words that it apparently delights you to prevent firefighters and other rescuers helping other people", Van Essen said to AD.

Police officers aren't wating for sympathy or nice words after another difficult New Year's, Gerrit van der Kamp, chairman of police union ACP, said to the newspaper. "So much have been said about it already and we tried and did so much, but it went wrong again. With beautiful words you won't get any further. Politicians must now take real action and give us the resources so we can do something with it."

According to the police, there were 79 cases of violence against a police officer over New Year's, compared to 59 last year. And that is not even counting incidents of violence against other first responders.

A spokesperson for Van der Steur told AD that the Minister finds violence against aid workers unacceptable. "That is why the Public Prosecutor demands twice as high punishments during the NEw Year." According to the spokesperson, municipalities took extra measures, such as additional patrols and flexible camera surveillance, to help tackle perpetrators.