Excesses overshadow otherwise orderly New Year’s Eve
New Year’s Eve 2023-2024 unfolded with fewer incidents and, in many areas, in an orderly manner. Nevertheless, excesses with severe displays of violence, disturbances of public order and disruptions involving (often illegal) fireworks resulted in injuries and damage throughout the country. Nearly 300 police officers and other public officials, for instance, were victims of physical and verbal aggression. Overall, a decrease in the number of fireworks victims in emergency rooms or out-of-hours GP surgeries was also observed, although injuries caused by high-strength and illegal fireworks increased. In addition, more adolescents were reported among both fireworks victims and people causing a disturbance.
These findings are reflected in the National New Year’s Eve review 2023-2024 submitted to the House of Representatives today by Minister Yeşilgöz-Zegerius of Justice and Security and State Secretary Heijnen of Infrastructure and Water Management. The report provides a figure-based overview of New Year’s Eve and does not reflect the impact of the incidents on individuals in the field. As every year, the municipalities, police, public order officers, fire brigades, ambulance services, healthcare staff, the Public Prosecution Service, the Environmental and Transport Inspectorate and other concerned organisations worked hard to ensure New Year’s Eve proceeded as safely as possible.
This past New Year’s Eve was the second one in which there effectively was a ban on firecrackers and flares. Similar to last year, the number of injuries caused by these types of fireworks continued to decrease this year. In the run-up to New Year’s Eve, various parties undertook extensive prevention efforts to ensure that everyone could enjoy the celebrations. Municipalities deployed youth officers and community leaders to engage in discussions with the target group, containers were preventively sealed by special enforcement officers and the police also spoke to potential troublemakers. Furthermore, the Environmental and Transport Inspectorate conducts product safety inspections every year to prevent unsafe fireworks from being circulated. Local fireworks bans also applied in 16 municipalities.
According to Minister Yeşilgöz-Zegerius, many efforts are still required from the entire society to ensure a safer New Year’s Eve.
Minister Yeşilgöz-Zegerius: “The violent outbursts, even targeted attacks with heavy-duty illegal fireworks, against police officers, firefighters and other emergency workers are unacceptable. It is precisely these people who step forward for the safety of others. Strong criminal proceedings are being initiated. Where violence against the very people who work for the safety of society is concerned, all possible efforts are being made in the prosecution, including more severe penalties. Municipalities are also increasing their efforts to identify known troublemakers together with the police and the Public Prosecution Service. Yet keeping our streets and neighbourhoods safe is certainly a major undertaking for each and every one of us – also as parents, neighbours and friends – especially as young people are also seen participating in the riots. As to the further steps required, we will be consulting with police, prosecutors, local government, police and public order unions in the near future.”
2023-2024 report overview
• The emergency departments of hospitals and GP surgeries reported 1,212 fireworks victims. This is 3% less than the previous New Year’s Eve.
• The fire brigade received 3,680 reports. This is less than the 4,155 reports of fire the previous New Year’s Eve.
• The number of incidents during New Year’s Eve decreased by 29.2% to 7,437 incidents.
• A total of 295 police officers and public officials were victims of physical or verbal aggression. This represents a 52% increase in police officers who faced violence (GTPA) and an 88.2% increase in victims who are public officials (VPT).
• Overall, the number of police arrests increased by 1.4% compared to the average over the past four years. During New Year’s Eve, 287 people were arrested in connection with incidents within the New Year’s Eve themes.
• 364 disorderly adolescents under the age of 18 were registered. This is an increase of 78% compared to the average of the previous four New Year’s Eves, although these are relatively low numbers out of the overall group of individuals causing public disturbances, according to the police.
• To date, the police have submitted 156 cases with arrested persons to the Public Prosecution Service (OM) on suspicion of a crime related to New Year’s Eve. This is a 3% decrease from last year, when 161 cases were handed in to the Public Prosecution Service around this time.
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