New Year violence still unacceptable, says Dutch justice minister

1 January Print

Although there were less violent incidents during the New Year festivities compared with last year, the number of attacks on emergency service workers is still unacceptable, justice minister Ivo Opstelten said on Tuesday.

In total, there were 8,094 incidents, down 350 on a year ago, Opstelten said. The number of attacks on police, ambulance staff and firemen fell from 110 to 74.

Some 61 people were arrested in connection with these attacks, the minister said.

Riot police

According to Nos television, several police officers in the Zuid Holland town of Moordrecht, south of Gouda, were forced to flea into a private home to escape a gang of youths.

They were responding to reports that a gang of youths was smashing windows and vandalising a house. Riot police were brought in to restore order and 18 youths were arrested.

Nationwide over 1,000 people were arrested for setting fires, fighting, vandalism and other offences, down from 1,300 a year ago. Nevertheless, the total is still too high, Opstelten said.

‘We won’t accept it,’ the Telegraaf reported him as saying. ‘We have to continue our efforts to ensure New Year remains a party.’


The minister also called on local councils to do more to organise their own firework shows, as happens in France.

However, the minister  recognises there is a tradition of letting off fireworks in the Netherlands after midnight and that this is an ‘important tradition’, the Telegraaf said.

Rain dampens New Year spirits, fewer arrests and injuries say police

Rain covered most of the country during the New Year festivities, leading to fewer arrests and incidents requiring police intervention.

In Amsterdam there were a number of break-ins, fights and arrests for vandalism and public drunkenness. Police also broke up two illegal large parties, a spokeswoman told ANP.

In total 180 people were arrested in Amsterdam, compared with 201 the previous year. The fire brigade were called out to deal with around 270 incidents in the capital.

The traditional count-down in Amsterdam, organised by the state lottery organisation, attracted some 3,500 people at its new location in the eastern docks.

When the event was held on the Dam, it attracted some 20,000 people, news agency ANP reported. ‘The location may explain why it was quiet: you are less likely to walk there,’ a police spokesman told the news agency.


In Utrecht there were also fewer problems than usual, police said. One person in Bunschoten lost a hand after lighting fireworks and in Amersfoort another person was seriously injured after a rocket hit them in the face.

Police in The Hague said the festivities were ‘calm’ and the effect of banning orders on known trouble makers had a positive effect. Three people were arrested after a stabbing incident and a number of people had been injured by fireworks.


Fears that the Rotterdam firework show on the Erasmus bridge may be cancelled because of the strong winds proved unfounded.

Council health and safety officials gave the final go-ahead to the event, which attracts tens of thousands of people, shortly before midnight.

Police in Rotterdam said the celebrations were ‘notably less troublesome than last year’ and there were no major incidents, partly due to the bad weather. Some 24 people were treated for eye injuries, down over 50% on a year ago, RTL news reported.

‘People wanted to go inside as soon as they could,’ a spokesman said. Nevertheless, riot police were called to deal out with one incident where the fire brigade were being stopped from putting out burning Christmas trees. There were some 116 arrests in Rotterdam.


Police also broke up an illegal party in Dordrecht where some 250 people had gathered without a permit.

In the provinces, police made arrests for arson and the railway station in Heeze was seriously damaged by fireworks in the late afternoon.

A firework bomb in Roosendaal damaged five houses and brought down the ceiling of a bicycle shop and a school in Arnhem was destroyed by fire, RTL news said in its round-up of the evening.

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