Camny / Site: Pixabay
MAASTRICHT. The city of Maastricht is facing a budget deficit of 12 million and needs to economise. Part of the measures presented by the Mayor and Aldermen last week, is reducing the number of evenings on which law enforcement units patrol. This has caused great disappointment in the Buurtbalans residents’ platform.
Since 2019, teams of special investigating officers (in Dutch buitengewoon opsporingsambtenaren, or BOAs) drive around Maastricht on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights until two o’clock in the morning to respond to complaints of nuisance. “On those evenings, these officers carry out their regular tasks,” says Ralf In de Braekt, Team Manager Law Enforcement Public Spaces for the city of Maastricht. “This includes nuisance caused by students, but also litter on the streets or excessive noise from pubs or restaurants.” So, this is separate from the trial with the so-called Student BOAs, who patrolled in the evening from March 2017 until July 2018 and focussed exclusively on nuisance caused by students. This trial was not continued.
It is not clear yet on which evenings the officers are going to patrol in the future, says In de Braekt. But if the economising plans are put into practice – the city council still needs to accept them – it will be on two rather than three nights.
“Incomprehensible,” says Chris Leonards from Buurtbalans residents’ platform, a network of 25 different neighbourhood organisations. “In 2019, the city council reserved additional funds for this very purpose. Apparently, they had come to the understanding that there are problems in the city that cannot be solved between 9 and 5 o’clock. And now they are going to undo the measure so soon.” There should be patrols on more evenings instead, every evening in fact, according to Leonards. “Residents are left to themselves on evenings when the investigating officers are not there. There is no point in calling the police; excessive noise, for example, does not have priority. I hope the council will adapt the plan, but I’m afraid the cuts will prevail.”