The turn of the year will certainly be busy, but it still looks manageable. That says police commissioner Max Daniel in conversation with NU.nl. According to the police, the situation during the turn of the year remains unpredictable, which is why, in addition to a large number of extra officers, the military police is also on standby.
Despite the recent turmoil in Urk, Roosendaal and this week in the Brabant village of Veen, this unrest is comparable to previous years, says Daniel. “The picture is, with the exception of a few hotspots, that it is very manageable. We have no signal yet that it will be all hands on deck.”
Nevertheless, the police are scaling up considerably during the turn of the year. “In the first place, we do not really know what to expect. We know, for example, that due to the corona measures there are young people who need to let themselves out then.”
In places where serious public disruptions are expected, the so-called hotspots, the police deploy up to 50 percent more officers. The amount of people scheduled is sufficient, says Daniel. It has not been necessary to cancel all employee leave.
However, it is indisputable that a lot of staff will be needed. Corona tests are therefore taken at the police on 30 and 31 December. “We have to perform in a group during the turn of the year, and do not want to have a large number of sick colleagues afterwards.” Any failure due to positive test results is taken into account, but according to Daniel this has been included in the upscaling.
Extra riot police deployed and military police stand-by
It is mainly this extra effort that the police are preparing for the upcoming turn of the year. In addition to the regular Mobile Unit (ME), a number of ME staff normally also run a standby service. This year, as a precautionary measure, the police made the choice not to let these employees work on standby, but to let them go to work.
“These agents will do tasks that they can immediately let go, such as participating in nuisance reports and desk work,” Daniel explains. Normally, it takes about 1.5 hours for someone to be operational on a standby shift. “Now these ME people can get there much faster, depending on where they need to be.”
In addition, the police are considering asking the military police for assistance during the turn of the year. “We do that quite often. They have trained riot police officers who are allowed to act in the public domain. We also call this help from neighbors. They are on stand-by so that colleagues can call on them in an emergency.”
Daniel calls Defense assistance “absolutely unnecessary” for the time being.
ME people in action in the Groningen neighborhood Paddenpoel, where it was restless in the turn of the year from 2018 to 2019.
‘Flexible enough for deployment in unexpected excesses’
The police already have a view of a number of hotspots, which are mapped on the basis of police officers and ‘open sources’ such as Twitter and Facebook. But it can also get out of hand in other places. “It may just be that in a particular neighborhood, young people suddenly feel that they need to express their displeasure in some way,” said Daniel. “But our commitment is flexible enough for that.”
Although only two guests are allowed to visit people during the New Year due to the corona crisis, Daniel says that no police officers are “peeking through the curtains of your living room”. “Our priority is more on public order and the safety of citizens, aid workers and ourselves. So we only act at illegal parties if there is really serious nuisance.”
Despite a fireworks ban, a remarkable amount of nuisance
The fireworks ban is another measure taken this year in the context of the corona virus. But despite that ban, there is a striking amount of fireworks nuisance, Daniel sees. In many cases these are “real illegal fireworks”, but Daniel can also imagine that people did not light their fireworks during the foggy turn of the year last year. “They think it is a shame to leave it there for another year.”
Whether the fireworks ban is effective, the police can only say after the turn of the year. “After all, the aim of the ban was to reduce the pressure on hospitals. If it turns out after the turn of the year that we have essentially reduced that pressure, then we have done well.”