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De Baarsjes must stop harassing youth

13 June 2008 - A majority of the de Baarsjes council wants the district to stop calling the employers of young people who are hanging around during school hours.

On 28 May at about 10 am, police and school attendance officers asked twelve under-23s what they were doing on the street. Those who were supposed to be at school were brought there in a van. If youth said they had a job, the employer was called to verify this.

A majority of the city council rejected the approach, but district chairman Arco Verburg defiantly announced the action would be continued. Now a majority of his own district council, consisting of GroenLinks, VVD and D66, is telling him in an open letter to discontinue the action.

"We applaud that something is being done against truancy", GroenLinks party leader Coos Hoebe (photo) explained. However, he has a problem with the fact that police call the employers of people they encounter on the street, for this might hurt their career.

All the more so, since Verburg has presented the action in the media partly as a way to deal with troublemakers. "Basically you're telling the employer that his employee is trouble", Hoebe says. The problem might be exacerbated for youth who have jobs at Schiphol Airport, where safety is a major concern and where they do not like the idea of staff having been involved with the police.

Youth who are over 18 years old do not have to go to school and are therefore not legally obliged to collaborate with Verburg's teams. This suggests that it is probably the more law-abiding ones, who think they should volunteer information anyway, who will be the victims, says Hoebe.

The parties are irritated that Verburg did not inform the council about his actions. "When he appears on television, he sends us a text message - which we appreciate. But when he makes a controversial decision like this, he fails to inform us".


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