Vigilance and alertness during large-scale events

Minister Opstelten (Security and Justice) wants municipalities, the police and the Public Prosecution Service to structurally monitor young hooligans in order to prevent breaches of public order. A personal approach to notorious disturbers of the peace is crucial in order to prevent breaches of public order in the long term. So far, this has only be explored and used to a limited extent. A national database for disorderly persons surrounding football will also be introduced. The ambition is to expand this database in time to a national database of disorderly persons. This will allow municipalities to exchange information better and will create files on hooligans. Minister Opstelten states this in a response to the report entitled "Breaches of public order and group violence during events and large-scale incidents: vigilance and alertness". The report was presented today to the Lower House.

In addition to this database, Minister Opstelten announces a national guideline on events that helps municipalities organise large-scale events and that will allow municipalities to learn from each other’s experiences. This guideline will be available in the spring of 2011. Minister Opstelten furthermore wishes to expand the possibilities of preventative searches.

The investigation was performed by the COT Institute for Safety Security and Crisis Management in cooperation with Bureau Beke and the Police Academy. The reason for the investigation were the very serious disturbances in Hoek van Holland (22 August 2009) during which groups of hooligans (a total of approximately one hundred persons) turned on the police en masse and whereby the police was ultimately forced to use their firearms. Such excessive forms of large-scale disturbances of public order and violence against the police surrounding an event had not occurred previously. The question whether this event concerned an exception or whether it constitutes the manifestation of a new phenomenon was the reason for initiating this investigation.

The investigation focused on a broad study of violence and serious disturbances of public order, committed by groups at events and large-scale incidents. There is also attention for the underlying (group) dynamic processes of 'turning against the police, private security staff and/or other care providers en masse'. And finally, the measures needed to deal with and reverse the developments were assessed. The investigators identified a cautious development that neighbourhood nuisance also manifests itself during events. Sharing experiences and lessons occurs to an insufficient extent, as does the cooperation between public and private parties. And finally, it is remarkable that enforcement of public order surrounding events does not yet occur to a sufficient extent.