Police, justice ministry officials and the local mayor severely underestimated the risks attached to last year’s viral Facebook party Project X Haren, according to the official report into the riots.
A special committee under the leadership of former Labour leader Job Cohen was set up to establish how a party invitation turned into a full-blown riot in a wealthy commuter suburb of Groningen.
The report shows there were serious failings at all levels of officialdom.
In particular, the police were unaware of the power of social media. For too long officials continued to consider the party as a hype, even though locals in the commuter suburb of Groningen were becoming increasingly worried, the report states.
‘They had the idea it would all be okay,’ Cohen said at the report’s presentation.
It was not until September 19, two days before the party was due to take place, that talks on a serious strategy began.
Officials decided not to close off the town or involve riot police at an early stage. Instead the police attempted to confuse the stream of partygoers by removing street names.
Trouble really erupted after riot police were deployed to deal with a group of youths who were spoiling for trouble, the report said. The situation was made worse by excessive drinking. Even though a temporary ban on alcohol had been imposed, police failed to take action against youngsters drinking on the street.
In the end, 110 people were arrested for public disorder and violence offences and the bill for damages topped €1m.
Several thousand youngsters turned up in the village of 18,000 people after a girl’s 16th birthday party, announced on Facebook, went viral and became a mass hype.
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