Police lack manpower to crack down on illegal fireworks: union chief

Illegal fireworks seized in 2016. Photo: Politie.nl

The shortage of police manpower means that not all tips or suspicions about illegal fireworks can be followed up ahead of the New Year festivities, according to the chairman of police union ACP.

Illegal fireworks, often imported from China, are traded all over the country, Gerrit van de Kamp told the Telegraaf. ‘The police want to follow up every lead but there is simply too much work.’

One of the main problems is the rise in online firework sales. ‘When you start looking into the internet, you come across an unbelievable amount of information and addresses, ‘ he said. ‘This is far more than the police can cope with.’

Justice minister Ferdinand Grapperhaus told MPs earlier this week that the police have closed down 60 social media addresses so far this year where illegal fireworks are being offered for sale.

His statement followed a call from the Dutch safety board at the beginning of this month for the sale of firecrackers and rockets to be banned in order to cut back on injuries and damage to property.

Some 500 people end up at accidents and emergency departments with serious injuries during the New Year’s Eve firework frenzy, making it the most dangerous time of the year in many places, the board said.

Last year police seized at least 16 tonnes of illegal fireworks in the run-up to the New Year celebrations. Fireworks can only be sold via licenced traders on 28, 29 and 30 December this year.

MPs are poised to call for tougher sentences for people caught selling illegal fireworks during a debate on public safety on Thursday, the Telegraaf said.

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