Amsterdam stop-and-search trial off to rocky start with observers watching observers

Knives confiscated by the police. Photo:
Knives confiscated by the police. Photo:

Police in Amsterdam will be allowed to stop-check people as part of an experiment to limit gun and knife crime starting on Wednesday.

The experiment is controversial because of fears ethnic profiling will play a part in officers’ decisions on who should be searched.

In order to prevent this from happening officers will be stop-checking people at random, regardless of what they look like.

Amnesty International said it has no objection to the trial but was not convinced by the method. ‘The guarantees are not in place,’ Amnesty director Dagmar Oudshoorn told Amsterdam radio broadcaster AT5.

The criticism prompted mayor Femke Halsema to appoint 45 civilians to monitor the trial and watch for signs of ethnic profiling.

This angered police unions, who interpreted the move as a lack of trust. They have now in turn appointed their own observers to monitor the civilians.

‘We are doing our own reporting because we do not trust the civilian observers,’ chair of the Nederlandse Politiebond Jan Struijs told NH Nieuws.

The trial will last a month and start in Bijlmer-Centrum (Zuidoost), Burgwallen-Nieuwe Zijde (Centrum), Geuzenveld (Nieuw-West), de Dapperbuurt (Oost) en de Waterlandpleinbuurt (Noord). 

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