Total control

Mass police checks of everyone going about their ordinary business seem to have become the norm in free and easy Netherlands.

Yesterday, for example, some 200 police officers and other officials were involved in major stop and search operation in the Amsterdam borough of Westerpark.
It was apparently a 24-hour operation focused on road users, public transport and the hotel and catering sector. In total 3,300 cars were stopped and 430 drivers were fined. Some 48 moped users were fined for having souped up their engines or not having a licence, 15 tram users were caught without a ticket and four cafés and shops were found not to have the proper papers.
No-one seems to turn a hair at these campaigns, which belong more to a dodgy dictatorship than a country which prides itself on its liberal attitudes. But then, the Netherlands taps more phones than any other country in the world and thinks 14-year-olds should carry ID cards.
News of this latest mass check coincides with the publication of a new report into Dutch attitudes to society. While bemoaning the lack of ‘respect’ in society – whatever that means – some 84% of those polled say they feel quite free to do and say what they like.
Given the increasing erosion of privacy, Sidelines wonders how long for.

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