Municipal enforcers worried about New Year's

Fireworks in Amsterdam Oost, 31 Dec 2017
Fireworks in Amsterdam Oost, 31 Dec 2017Photo: Zachary Newmark / NL Times

Municipal enforcers are very concerned about New Year's and the increasing number of firework-free zones they have to enforce, without means to defend themselves if they are in trouble. "This can easily go wrong", Eric Lakeman of the Dutch enforcers' union NBB said to newspaper AD.

In the Netherlands enforcers are rarely equipped with batons. This means that they have to make sure no one light fireworks in areas they are not allowed to completely unarmed. The NBB pleads for all enforcers to be equipped with batons, pepper spray and bodycams before New Year's. 

Ruud Verkuijlen, program manager for Violence against Police Officers, understands the concern. "We are faced with a tough challenge", he said to the newspaper. His job is to get police officers safely through New Year's, but also to make sure that enforcers and first responders can do their work without being harassed . This is increasingly complicated because of "a patchwork" of fireworks restrictions implemented in municipalities, he said. 

Verkuijlen stressed that enforcers that get into trouble can count on fast support from the police. But he is still worried about enforcers' position, even with fast police support. "Five minutes can take a long time if you are really in trouble."