Staphorst – The Justice and Security Inspectorate has published a critical report on police conduct during the Sinterklaas arrival in Staphorst on November 19, 2022. The East Netherlands police recognizes the conclusions from the report and regrets that demonstrators and observers did not receive the protection to which they are entitled. had. “Our focus should have been more on tackling and stopping the rioters,” says Sezgin Sezer, sector head of the IJsselland district, which includes Staphorst. ‘We therefore take the recommendation to pay more attention to the protection of demonstrators in a high-risk situation.’
Soon after the arrival, the police themselves concluded that mistakes had been made. The inspection now concludes that the preparation was insufficient and that the police were not agile on the day itself. “The police have the task of protecting the fundamental rights of citizens. In this case there were two parties that needed our protection; the visitors of the arrival (an event for which a permit had been granted) and the demonstrators of Kick Out Zwarte Piet (who had registered their demonstration) with the Amnesty observers. However, there was also a third party that did everything it could to deprive the fundamental rights of the demonstrators. We blame ourselves for the fact that this last group has managed to grossly violate the fundamental rights of the demonstrators. We should have done more to prevent the rioters from achieving their goal,” Sezer said.
After the events, the police entered into discussions with Kick Out Zwarte Piet and Amnesty and an apology was offered. Based on this report, discussions will continue and learning points will be discussed. “We think it is important that these lessons are also shared more widely within the police. Over the past year, the East Netherlands police have already taken the first steps in this regard. For example, the commanders of the Large-Scale and Special Operations Staffs (SGBO) have received in-depth training on demonstrations. A larger group of executives followed a webinar about the Public Manifestation Act. Furthermore, at the start of an SGBO, it is now better assessed what risks there are and what knowledge and skills are required. This is also in line with the recommendations of the Inspectorate.
The number of demonstrations is increasing in the Netherlands and the demonstrations that are taking place demand more and more from the police. Social issues that are viewed differently by different groups in society increasingly affect public order, especially when groups in society come into conflict with each other. The right to demonstrate is an important fundamental right. That is why the police take the recommendations and insights gained into account to work together with the local triangle (municipality, public prosecutor and police) on the smooth conduct of demonstrations.
Information source: Politie.nl