Nearly 25 tons of illegal fireworks confiscated already
The Dutch police seized a massive 24,700 kilograms of illegal fireworks so far this year, up to and including November 1. That is much more than in the same period last year, when about 19,800 kilos of fireworks were seized, Hart van Nederland reports based on figures from the Public Prosecutor's fireworks barometer.
The police did not want to speculate on cause of the massive increase. It could be that there are more illegal fireworks in the country this year, but it could also be that investigation techniques improved, Anne Dreijer, the National Police's fireworks expert, said to the program.
To track down illegal fireworks, the police are increasingly looking at social media. "This is done through all forms of social media, such as Instagram, Facebook groups, Telegram. Sometimes we even see illegal fireworks offered on Martkplaats," Dreijer said. There is also more focus on border controls this year, in which random cars are searched for fireworks. Legal fireworks may be brought into the Netherlands, but no more than 25 kilos per person.
Illegal fireworks, especially firecrackers like nitrates and cobras, can be dangerous, Dreijer stressed. "They're often involved in accidents, sometimes fatal." They also often cause a lot of damage. A fireworks bomb damaged multiple homes in Rotterdam on Monday, and a coronavirus test location in Been en Donk on Friday.
The possession of illegal fireworks is also a crime, Dreijer said. "You get a criminal record, and it can also have consequences for your lease," Dreijer said. "There is an antecedent that you were caught with explosives." Which means that you'll have trouble getting a visa for countries like the United States.
The government is considering banning fireworks completely this New Year's, so as to not overtax the healthcare system and enforcement authorities already overworked with the coronavirus pandemic. Nevertheless, Dreijer expects this will be a difficult New Year's. The hope is that most people will adhere to a possible ban, "but there will be a small proportion that will use fireworks anyway," Dreijer said. The police worry that frustrated people will be even more likely to target first responders.