Boarding up homes and business premises that have been targeted by criminals won’t stop the attacks, causes problems with neighbours and is being used by criminals as a way of getting rid of competition, experts have told the Telegraaf.
The mayors of Amsterdam and Rotterdam have closed down a record number of homes and business premises this year following numerous shootings and explosions.
In Amsterdam, some 16 homes and business premises have been shot at or targeted with explosives, 12 of which were boarded up by police. In Rotterdam some 28 locations were targeted, resulting in the closure of 22 premises.
Most of the attacks have been linked to conflicts among criminal gangs. Police in the Amsterdam-Amstelland region registered 83 attacks involving explosives in the first six months of the year alone. In Rotterdam that number was 89.
The national total until now is 303, compared to a total of 325 for the whole of last year.
Local councils are facing a dilemma, Jon Schilder, a professor of constitutional and administrative law, told the paper, because the measure also forces innocent tenants to leave the house.
“Mayors have no choice but to close down these houses because they pose a danger to neighbours and public safety,” he said. “In one case, the house of a criminal was shot at but the bullets ended up in the neighbours’ living room.
“An empty house is no longer a target. But it can have far-reaching consequences. I know of a case where a woman’s grandson was the target. The house was boarded up, leaving his grandmother homeless.”
Closures are usually temporary and based on police information, administrative law expert Remko Wijling said. However, officials are being too quick to ban people from their homes, Wijling said, and house closures should only happen if all else fails.
Closures have been contested successfully by lawyers on several occasions. “If families with small children are involved, the local council must find them alternative accommodation. If that doesn’t happen the closure won’t go ahead.”
Experts agree that shutting houses and premises temporarily is not a solution to the problem. “It makes people feel a bit safer but that is about it,” Schilder said.
Criminals are also using the measure to put pressure on the competition by threatening attacks on family members’ homes who then end up homeless.
The senate is currently processing legislation that gives mayors more powers to board up houses where powerful fireworks or other explosives or weapons are found. “That would hit the perpetrators of the attacks,” Wijling said.