Far more illegal fireworks purchased this year, and much more powerful: Police Union
A larger quantity of illegal fireworks were purchased this year than in other years, and the fireworks are definitely powerful, said the Nederlandse Politiebond, the largest labor union for police personnel. Jan Struijs, the union’s chair, said he was concerned about the upcoming New Year’s Eve period, saying that while he hopes it will be a truly festive occasion, "it can just turn into a battle." The union, which represents about 28,000 police officers, is "seriously concerned" about the upcoming weekend.
For the first time in two years, New Year's Eve can be celebrated more lavishly without coronavirus restrictions. Although fireworks are prohibited from use in some municipalities, "the policy is very variable," said Struijs. This can have a ripple effect, of sorts. “We are holding our breath. Every time we see that the turn of the year can also be an outlet [for frustration]. It only takes something to happen before people turn against the police."
The national unit of the police already reported that if the use of fireworks this New Year’s leads to "much injury, misery and damage," then the police will continue to press for a national fireworks ban. "We will campaign hard for this politically," said Peije de Meij, New Year's Eve coordinator at the police. De Meij therefore sees this New Year’s period as "the ultimate test."
Maarten Brink, the chair of the ACP police union, said he shares the police's concerns about "illegal explosives that are set off. Also called ‘fireworks,’" he tweeted.
For the past two years, there has been a general ban on fireworks due to the coronavirus and various restrictions. This led to fewer arrests and incidents compared to previous years. In the run-up to the turn of the new year, the police are paying extra attention to serious illegal fireworks. This year, for example, more than 600,000 kilograms of illegal fireworks destined for the Dutch market have been seized.
"A lot was demanded of police officers" in the past year and the recovery time was "much too short," Struijs said. "The past year has been tense, with a lot of heavy fireworks in the last two months. This year there is a very tough long final sprint." Struijs said he has not yet received any signals that officers will refuse services on New Year's Eve because of fear of the turn of the year. "Partners and children of officers are concerned. That is an ongoing concern."
This year, the police have "topped up to the maximum" in terms of staffing. The union did not specify absolute numbers, "otherwise people know where they should and shouldn't be." He added, "The last thing that should be done is to underestimate New Year’s," and pledged that would not happen this year.
Reporting by ANP