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Daily Dutch News in English

Stricter sentences for Dutch New Year’s Eve rioters

The Dutch Public Prosecutor’s Office says it will demand heavier sentences for people guilty of vandalism and public order offences on New Year’s Eve.

Suspects will have their cases heard the next day and receive higher fines and longer jail or community service terms. Convicted offenders doing community work will be easily recognisable to the general public. Fines for harassing police, emergency services personnel and bus drivers will be tripled. Public prosecutors have been instructed to seek jail terms for people caught with home-made ‘firework bombs’.

The Public Prosecutor’s Office hopes the measures will help ensure a “relatively quiet” New Year’s Eve.

People causing trouble in Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague, Utrecht, Arnhem and Zutphen will be tried and sentenced on 1 January. A spokesperson for the Amsterdam Public Prosecutor’s Office said that New Year’s Eve should not be allowed to deteriorate into a private party for rioters. “The deterrent effect of punishment is very important.”

Rioters in Amsterdam will have to help clean up the city’s Museumplein; in Rotterdam they will have to serve on garbage trucks. Those convicted of New Year offences will be made to wear the “most visible clothing possible”. Fines will be 75 percent higher than usual and all damage will be paid for by those responsible.

Those found guilty of seriously public order offences during last year’s New Year’s Eve celebrations will be under house arrest from 20:00 on 31 December until 08:00 on 1 January. Rioters convicted on 1 January will be under house arrest during next year’s New Year’s Eve.

The Public Prosecutor’s Office says the measures are intended to send a message to society. “The advantage of this approach is that victims receive compensation faster and those found guilty immediately know where they stand. Tourists can pay their fines immediately and need not worry about when they will receive a summons to appear in court.”

A government-sponsored television advertising campaign warning people against harassing police officers and emergency services staff around the New Year will begin being aired on Tuesday.

© Radio Netherlands Worldwide