Difficult to restart events with police capacity strained
Large events may not be organized in the Netherlands this fall as there may not be enough police officers to guarantee security around them, caretaker Security Minister Ferd Grapperhaus and police unions told BNR. Various major events may not be permitted to take place this year even if coronavirus restrictions are lifted in time for them to be scheduled.
“We have to be careful not to allow everyone to suddenly start organizing things everywhere,“ said Grapperhaus.
Ultimately, mayors will determine in consultation with the police whether events can be held, Grapperhaus emphasized. It was therefore impossible to predict which events could possibly be organized, he said. It was clear that football matches with an audience, and major events in inner cities use the most police capacity.
“Every city has now almost come to an end with coronavirus. A wish list has been filled in with major events that they would like to keep going, but we are now having a lot of discussions about that behind the scenes,“ said Jan Struijs, chairman of the Dutch Police Union.
Grapperhaus has previously pointed out that law enforcement officers have been dealing with an increased amount of work pressure since the start of the coronavirus crisis. “We shouldn't think that when the measures are largely gone, we can start organizing all kinds of things and that there are police officers for that. They are also entitled to a holiday and compensation for overtime,“ he said.
During the coronavirus pandemic, police officers had to put in a significant amount of overtime hours, Struijs emphasized. Over the last 15 months, they had to ensure the enforcement of coronavirus measures on a daily basis. Their workload was additionally increased when violent lockdown protests erupted across the country in January.
Struijs also warned that scarcity of police capacity may increase even further in the upcoming months, as many officers are now also retiring.