SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – People caught hoarding fireworks in the run-up to New Year could be ordered to stay off the streets during the festivities under a plan to reduce violence and aggression.
Officers have called for mayors to impose an obligation to report to police, or meldlplicht, on anyone found with illegal fireworks, during the hours before midnight on December 31.
They say the measure would protect police officers called out to deal with incidents on the last night of the year, which is one of the busiest periods for the emergency services.
‘Every year our people experience aggression and violence during the end-of-year celebrations, which includes fireworks being thrown,’ Ruud Verkuijlen, who manages the police response at New Year, told NOS Radio 1 Journaal.
‘Our viewpoint is: if we introduce an obligation to report to police, those people won’t be out there throwing fireworks at us.’ Pieter Broertjes, mayor of Hilversum, said he supported the proposed measure.
‘We have the administrative powers to arrange these things and it could be done in a short time,’ he said. ‘That gives us an advantage over bringing criminal proceedings, where all kinds of things have to be done first.’
In recent years Dutch authorities have tightened up restrictions on fireworks in an attempt to cut down on the level of injuries and violence at New Year, but the cabinet has stopped short of banning private fireworks outright, insisting it is a ‘valued tradition’.
The Dutch safety board OVV last year called for firecrackers and rockets to be banned during the New Year’s Eve celebrations, when around 500 people have to be treated in accidents and emergency departments.
Amsterdam council is due to discuss a proposal to outlaw the sale and use of amateur fireworks within the city’s boundaries at its November meeting. The local government association VNG has said the government should impose a nationwide ban on the most dangerous types of firework, arguing that allowing local councils to apply different rules would be ineffective. (DutchNews)