Justice Minister wants fewer festivals in fight against drugs

Minister Ferdinand Grapperhaus of Justice and Security is committed to fighting drug crime in the Netherlands. And to do so, he thinks that the number of festivals held in the Netherlands should be reduced. There are too many festivals in the country, and the police can't enforce drug law at all of them, he said in an interview with the Telegraaf.

The use of hard drugs at festivals has become the order of the day in the Netherlands, according to the Minister. Under Dutch law it is allowed to have a user quantity of drugs on you at festivals, more than that and you'll go to the police station for questioning. "If we would enforce that, you would see something of it. The problem is: we have 1,100 festivals in the Netherlands. Do we have to deploy all our police on that?" Grapperhaus said to the newspaper. "I think we should be critical and say: can we handle all this?"

Grapperhaus said that drug crime in the Netherlands is worse than he expected when he first took office, calling it "mega profitable for crooks". He noticed that when he went on working visits throughout the country. "I saw that crooks simply settled in a residential area, with drug labs and storage sites and where illegal human trafficking is taking place. People from the upper world are involved, they are being blackmailed."

"Therefore, my warning to pill users and coke sniffers: realize that you are helping a huge criminal industry and that comes at the expense of ordinary people."

The government is committing to tackling these crimes. "I'm busy doing something about it. I'm reinforcing the police. This year the Public Prosecution Service will also receive extra money."

Grapperhaus said that a once-off amount of 100 million euros was made available in a so-called undermining crime fund to disrupt criminal activities, and that fund will structurally receive another 10 million euros . "But if we leave it at that, it will be very difficult", he said to the newspaper.

More will be needed, though he could not give an exact amount. "I find it hard to indicate how much that is. That is because we have invested that money in all kinds of projects that are meant to firmly tackle organized crime. And in the coming period we will note which are the most successful, so that you can invest more in that"