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No police at Dutch fests as ‘overworked’ officers go on strike

There will be no police presence at this weekend’s Decibel Outdoor festival in Hilvarenbeek, Netherlands, amid a row between police union ACP and the Dutch government over pay and working conditions.

Unless there is a “serious disruption of public order”, police will steer clear of the EDM festival – which is expected to be attended by more than 70,000 people over 17–19 August – in protest at what the leading trade union calls an “enormous amount of work that can no longer be dealt with”.

“We cannot keep up with the increase in the number of events, and our work [at festivals] is no longer in proportion to other tasks,” says an ACP spokesperson. “This year alone, there are nearly 1,000 festivals which, almost without exception, demand police deployment. This places a huge strain on the force in the present circumstances.”

A social-media campaign, #nuldecibel, aims to raise awareness of the reasons behind the boycott. Zeeland–West Brabant police usually send around 300 officers to the festival, says ACP.

“We cannot keep up with the increase in the number of events”

According to local media, talks between the unions and the Netherlands’ Ministry of Justice and Security have been deadlocked for months, following the former’s rejection of a 7% pay rise earlier this summer. Outside of festivals, police have protested by  or 

ACP says that while its actions to this point have been “public-friendly”, it has taken the decision to switch to those with “social consequences”, such as the Decibel Outdoor boycott, as a result of the stalled negotiations. “Politicians and citizens must be aware that it can not go on like this,” says the spokesperson.

French festival promoters last month reacted with fury after a leaked memo revealed government plans to begin charging for police at their events.


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