New Year violence is “completely unacceptable”, police say

Cleaning up the mess. Photo: Raymond van Flymen ANP

Dutch police arrested at least 200 people during the New Year celebrations and several officers were injured, mainly due to fireworks, police said on Monday. The police were also called out to deal with incidents nationwide, including arson, vandalism and attacks on emergency service workers.

“It is completely unacceptable,” said Peije de Meij, in charge of coordinating the police response at New Year. “This is the reality we operate in during New Year’s Eve, year in year out.”

The entire evening was busy with a number of serious incidents, De Meij said.

Riot police were called out to support the fire brigade deal with problems in Alphen aan den Rijn, Bedum and Hedel. In Huizen, Poortugaal and Amsterdam West they were brought in to break up groups “wearing balaclavas,” the statement said.

“Balaclavas have nothing to do with a party,” De Meij said. “It is totally out of order to go out looking for confrontation with the police.”

Fireworks were banned in 16 towns and cities but the bans were widely ignored everywhere, including in Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Eindhoven. A 19-year-old youth was killed in Haarlem in an accident involving fireworks but police are still looking into what happened.

In the village of Midwolda in Groningen, several cars were damaged and windows broken after an explosion thought to be caused by highly dangerous fireworks which are banned in the Netherlands. The explosion was caught on a video doorbell.

There were similar problems in the Frisian villages of Kollumerzwaag, Tzummarum and Marrum, local media reported.

In Den Bosch a young child was seriously injured in a fire on a balcony, also thought to have been caused by fireworks.

In The Hague a police car was destroyed by fire when it was left unattended by police officers. Cars were also torched in Vlaardingen, Schiedam and Barendrecht.

According to RTL Nieuws, 110 cars and mopeds were set on fire in the Rotterdam region, mainly shared scooters. “They are easy to throw on a pile,” a spokesman for the emergency services said.


In Capelle aan den IJssel one person was shot dead at around 6.20 am after a fight broke out at a party. The victim was reportedly shot while in his car, local broadcaster Rijnmond said. No-one has yet been arrested.

In Delft a shop on the Griegstraat was destroyed in a fire caused by heavy fireworks and police officers were pelted with fireworks. Riot police were brought in for a time to restore order, reported.

Riot police were also drafted in to Alphen aan den Rijn to protect firemen who were trying to put out a bonfire. In Rotterdam several people were stabbed in different incidents.

Eye injuries

Of the 18 people to go to the specialist eye hospital in Rotterdam so far, two are children and most were bystanders watching fireworks.

“It is the same song as every year,” eye surgeon Tjeerd de Faber told Nos radio. “We’ve done one operation and we have five to do. These are people who will have problems for the rest of their lives.”

Watch the NOS compilation of how the Netherlands celebrated

The three specialist burns units at Dutch hospitals reported a “quiet night” despite the number of incidents, but hospitals in general said they had to cope with a large number of aggressive patients who had too much to drink and had been fighting.

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