No firecrackers ban this New Year's

The Dutch government will not implement a general ban on firecrackers and firework rockets over New Year's because the cabinet considers this measure too far-reaching, Minister Ferdinand Grapperhaus of Justice and Security and State Secretary Stientje van Veldhoven of Infrastructure and Water Management wrote in a letter to parliament, ANP reports.

According to the two government officials, a general ban is too far-reaching because large parts of the population still want to light these fireworks over New Year's. Grapperhaus and Van Veldhoven therefore plan to  leave it up to municipalities to decide for themselves how to handle fireworks over New Year's.

Last year the Dutch Safety Board advised that firecrackers and rockets be banned, because they cause the most injuries and damage over New Year's. Hundreds of people end up in emergency rooms with serious, firework related injuries every New Year's, according to the news wire. Every year there is an average of one death and around 11 thousand incidents, including about 70 targeted at police officers, firefighters, or paramedics. On top of that there is also millions of euros of damage every turning of the year.

The police are "badly disappointed" by the government's decision not to ban firecrackers and rockets, Ruud Verkuijlen, program manager for violence against police officers, said to ANP. "Aggression and violence against the police is a major problem during the turning of the year. A ban on firecrackers and rockets will solve a large part of that." According to him, the government missed "the chance" by not following the Safety Board's advice. 

Verkuijlen also called the plan to let municipalities decide on firework-free zones impossible to enforce. "It is impossible for officers to see in the heat of the fight for which street a ban applies and for which one it doesn't."

The police have been calling for a ban on these types of fireworks for some time, according to the news wire. National Police Chief Erik Akerboom previously called them a "serious threat" to police officers, other aid workers and the public. Ophthalmologists, the Dutch society for the Protection of Animals, political party GroenLinks and insurers, among others, also support a fireworks ban.