Enforcing Covid measures and firework ban not priority during New Year's: police chief
During the New Year, enforcement of coronavirus restrictions and the fireworks ban is third in the list of officers' priorities, police chief Willem Woelders said. Guaranteeing the safety of emergency services such as the fire brigade and ambulance has focus, the police chief said. In second place is the safety of citizens.
"Thirdly, where possible, we will take action against excessive violations of coronavirus measures and the setting off of fireworks. This is the guideline with which we deploy our people. We have to make choices." Woelders, who is preparing for the turn of the year in the National Police force, said. Fireworks shows in Amsterdam and Rotterdam have been forbidden, just as the traditional bonfires in The Hague.
Woelders expected New Year's Eve 2021 to be similar to last year. "Even then, we had to deal with a fireworks ban and a lockdown. The difference to last year is more resistance from some groups who try to hijack demonstrations and use heavy violence against the police. That is more than in other years. We will still be confronted with heavy fireworks. That is still part of society," Woelders said.
Police have been finding more heavy illegal fireworks. "They're basically explosives you can use to blow up a car. It's life-threatening stuff and has nothing to do with fireworks anymore." So far, police have seized 173,699 kilos of fireworks this year, more than in 2020, with a total of 123,00 fireworks. "And we are not even at the end of the year. There will still be more discoveries," Woelders said. The police chief said that intensive cooperation with Belgium and German authorities have yielded results.
This year Germany also introduced a fireworks ban for the first time. "We'll have to see if that will have an effect. It's not small fish who make this trade. There's much money to be made. You will continue to see it."
According to a survey by the Interior Administration, one in ten people in the Netherlands plan to set off fireworks on New Year's Evce. "There will always be people who don't abide by the rules," Woelders said. "The standard is clear: we cannot investigate every firework that is set off, but if the public order is disturbed and people are at risk, perpetrators run the risk of being arrested or fined."
Reporting by ANP