Fight clubs happening increasingly in public space
Organized fights between groups are increasing in public spaces. Citizens and business owners, therefore, run a greater risk of becoming victims of violence. Groups that are out for a fight are also increasingly seeking confrontation with the riot police.
These findings emerged from an investigation by Bureau Beke on behalf of the police. The report is a follow-up to a study conducted four years ago. That study focused on groups, usually football supporters, who agreed to fight each other in remote areas.
Organized fights are now also more commonly taking place in residential areas and at evening entertainment venues, according to the researchers. Bystanders can end up embroiled in the violence, becoming victims.
Frank Paauw, portfolio holder for Violence against the Police and Football, finds the results of the investigation worrying. "In addition to the fight club phenomenon, the police are more often targeted by violent offenders in public spaces, sometimes amongst innocent civilians, and that is absolutely undesirable. The many Covid-19 demonstrations on Museumplein are an example of this."
Paauw explains that citizens who were protesting peacefully at the time suddenly found themselves among violent offenders who were targeting the police. "A totally undesirable situation to which we as the police are already emphatically focusing our attention and will continue to invest in. If we have information about planned upcoming fights, we will break such plans or initiate a criminal investigation."
Several police officers were injured in the violent escalations that took place last year in Amsterdam and Rotterdam. In Rotterdam, police officers even felt compelled to use their service weapons. These serious incidents are reason enough for the police to launch an external investigation into whether the possible use of additional means of force for the riot police can help get an undesirable situation under control as quickly as possible.
Reporting by ANP