"Scooters race against traffic or through pedestrian areas. There is shouting, thefts, and poo on the streets. There is violence." -Arre Zuurmond
After turning a blind eye to rampant drug use and out-of-control tourists, Amsterdam's Red Light District hs become an "urban jungle at night," according to city ombudsman Arre Zuurmond.
"The city center becomes an urban jungle at night," Zuurmond told Dutch newspaper Trouw, adding "Criminal money flourishes, authority no longer exists and the police can no longer handle this situation."
Tasked with investigating mayhem in the Red Light District, Zuurmond set up three CCTV cameras in the middle of bustling Leidseplein square, located in the southwestern part of the city center, and was shocked at what was recorded.
One night we counted 900 offences, mainly between the hours of 2:00am and 4:00am. The atmosphere is grim, and there is an air of lawlessness...Scooters race through the pedestrian areas. There is a lot of shouting. Drugs are being bought. There is stealing"
"There is violence but no action. You can even piss on a mobile police van without the driver even saying anything," Zuurmond added.
The Red Light District is notoriously packed with revelers in the evenings who enjoy getting high and having sex - however as is many times the case, cities which offer such vices are often plagued with the crime that comes with it. Human trafficking, for example, has long been a major issue in the district. Efforts to combat the phenomenon with Amsterdam's so-called "Project 1012" - named after the postal code, was only partially successful according to an Amsterdam court.
Zuurmond also talks of "deepening problems" coming from the city center - such as 2,000 illegal taxis and unregulated prostitution conducted outside of the city's regulations.
So what's the plan?
To combat the mayhem, Amsterdam is going to begin experimenting with nuisance microphones which will record and analyze the types of sounds coming from the city center (music, screams, vehicle traffic, etc.). If noise exceeds a certain threshold, authorities will be dispatched.
Another goal will be to actually serve justice on convicted criminals. According to the Ministry of Justice, just 12,000 of the 160,000 individuals who have been "irrevocably convicted" have actually had to serve time in jail, while Amsterdam also attracts a large number of convicts fleeing justice. Because people in Amsterdam can simply apply for a passport with minimal background checks, hundreds of alleged street criminals are able to simply disappear.
The city will also crack down on stolen cars - linking a license plate scanning system to their vehicle registration register in which stolen car information is also stored. If a car turns up "hot" and someone is driving it the police will be immediately notified. If a stolen car is parked, it will be towed away.
Amsterdam will also be cracking down on unregistered Albanians.
800 Albanians are registered with the basic administration. According to the police this group was not a problem for a long time. Until authorities thought to set up an Amsterdam page on an existing Albanian website. In one year, those pages were visited from the Dutch capital by 30,000 different IP addresses, usually via the most expensive iPhone models and encrypted crypto-phones. It was relatively easy to establish that the Albanian problem is much larger than expected, and the policy of the police could be adjusted. -Trouw (translated)
In April, NLTimes reported that Albanians are playing a "leading role" in the Amsterdam underworld - engaged in cocaine trafficking, human trafficking and property crimes.
According to the police, these Albanian criminals lead the cocaine import from South America, the transhipment via the port of Rotterdam, and the further distribution to other European countries from Amsterdam. In addition to the Netherlands, Albanians are also very active in the drug trade in Great Britain.
The number of Albanian criminals active in Amsterdam's underworld continues to increase, according to the police.
There is much more firearm violence around cocaine trafficking than with other drugs. The police see a growing use of illegal firearms, including automatic firearms, which come from conflict areas in Ukraine, Syria, Mali, and Libya. There is also many weapons from Russia, where the army has written off 4 million Kalashnikov rifles. -NLTimes
What's more, most assassinations in Amsterdam are linked to the drug trade according to police." These assassinations are usually carried out by young Amsterdam residents, and the victims are usually also young Amsterdam residents," reports the Times.
Lastly, Amsterdam has an issue with cybercrime - as one in eight residents report having to deal with hacking or ransomware - more people than fall victim to bicycle theft.