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Amsterdam to close police stations at night, as officer shortage bites

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Photo: Graham Dockery

At least two Amsterdam police stations are to be closed at night and special teams focusing on cannabis cafes, and on transport crime, are being disbanded because of a shortage of police officers, mayor Femke Halsema has told city councillors.

The city needs an extra 500 police officers and by stopping some operations, officers can be freed up to concentrate on other duties such as street patrols, Halsema said. Making the police more visible will have a deterrent effect on vulnerable youngsters who may turn to crime, the mayor said in her briefing.

The shortage of police officers has been made worse because a number have been seconded as security for lawyers, judges and court officials following the murder of lawyer Derk Wiersum earlier this autumn.

‘We are struggling to keep our heads above water,’ the mayor said.

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The measures will come into force for an initial six months  and will be looked at again after three.

Utrecht too is taking action because of a shortage of officers. Two police stations will be closed at the weekend and fewer officers will be available for policing football matches because so many officers are now involved in protection duties.

Justice minister Ferd Grapperhaus said in a reaction that the Dutch capital is right to set priorities, adding that he is investing an extra €320 on recruiting more officers and €100m to relieve police of routine organisational tasks.

However, according to the Halsema’s letter, Amsterdam has benefited from just 60 new officers, while 480 have left the force or retired.

The cuts will not affect the new drive to root out organised crime in the city, the mayor told councillors.

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