Police unions: Failure to prosecute climate activists blocking A12 frustrates police
There was great frustration among police officers who were on duty in The Hague on Saturday at the blockade of the A12 by Extinction Rebellion activists. The failure to prosecute more than 1,500 arrests did not go down well with the police, confirmed Jan Struijs, chairman of the Dutch Police Union, the AD reported.
During Saturday's blockade of the A12, 1,579 climate activists were arrested. Most protesters were subsequently released and will not be prosecuted. Furthermore, 40 people were arrested for criminal offenses such as graffiti or insults and will be prosecuted.
Struijs received many emails and calls from frustrated police officers in The Hague. "Police officers tell me, 'We've been called out en masse, but we have a lot of other police work to do.' If you then start making mass arrests as police because numerous crimes are being committed, and then in almost all cases dismissals automatically follow, that's not exactly motivating."
At the same time, the police union president said, prosecutors should be looking at the criminal behavior, not the reason the protesters are on the A12. "How can you explain that one demonstration is prosecuted and another is not? We need to make sure that we remain credible as a state under the rule of law and that equality under the law is not compromised."
Chief Executive Koen Simmers cynically responded on Twitter that police officers would not have to show up next time. "And not at other demonstrations, (store) thefts of a few groceries, stationary vehicles and tractors or a barbecue on the (highway) road. That's just a small thing."
Mooi, scheelt weer flink wat capaciteit en hoeven we de volgende keer niet op komen te draven. En ook niet bij andere demonstraties, (winkel)diefstallen van een paar levensmiddelen, stilstaande voertuigen en tractoren of een bbq op de (snel)weg. Het is toch maar een gering feit. https://t.co/qjXkzUZkBR— Koen Simmers (@Koensimmers) May 28, 2023
Wim Groeneweg, president of the ACP police union, called the OM's decision incomprehensible. "Respect to all the officers who are deployed from all over the country. It comes at the expense of officers' free time and regular police work." ACP spokesman Maarten Brink said on Twitter he was very surprised. "Many officers were deployed from days off, other work was left undone, base teams struggled to fill their shifts."
Wat doet dit met de motivatie van politiemensen? Veel #politie werd ingezet uit vrije dagen, andere werkzaamheden bleven liggen, basisteams kregen met moeite diensten rond. En dan handhaaf je de openbare orde en doet het #OM het af met deze motivatie. Ik verwonder me uitermate! https://t.co/g9sA6nGOSP— Maarten Brink (@maartenbrink) May 27, 2023
The ACP Zeeland-West Brabant division, which deployed police officers to The Hague, was also surprised. "To waste so much capacity and then not 'follow up'? Then let these #police officers do their job in the neighborhoods! That's where the shortage is."
Reporting by ANP