Dutch police call for task force to tackle firework bombings

Photo: DutchNews.nl

Dutch police had registered 496 attacks involving explosives by June 1 and say they are now more widely spread across the country than in previous years.

One-third of the incidents so far this year were in Rotterdam and Amsterdam, but two years ago, two-thirds of the attacks took place in the biggest Dutch cities.

In total, explosives and fireworks were used in 1,057 attacks on property in 2023, three times the 2022 total. Most attacks are down to gangland rivalry, but some are due to business and personal conflicts.

The police are now calling for a nationwide task force that would include housing corporations, insurers, local councils and youth organisations as well as their own experts, to try to tackle the problem.

Youngsters are often used to place the explosives, said high-impact crime chief Jos van der Stap. “They are vulnerable young people who are willing to commit serious crimes and take great risks for few euros. Their average age is 23, which is low compared to other crimes but some are as young as 13 or 14.”

Dutch police are already working with forces in Germany, France and Belgium, and with Europol to try to end the easy access to powerful fireworks which are often used in the attacks.

Nevertheless, the biggest challenge, says Van der Stap, is to reduce the pool of youngsters who are willing to place the bombs.

Social media platforms could also do more to stop active recruiting online.  “These platforms are attractive because there is no control or supervision, let alone sanctions,” he said. “Carrying out more controls would make them more resistant to abuse.”

MPs are due to discuss the surge in explosives-related violence later on Thursday.

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