City Watchdog Declares Amsterdam As An Unsafe Urban Jungle
Ah, Amsterdam. A long-held favourite destination loved by tourists all over the world, famous for its beautiful canals, mouthwatering waffles, sightseeing hotspots and... well, you know what else.
But now, tourists who are heading to the Dutch playground for adults are being warned to stay home after dark because the city is becoming an uncontrollable 'lawless jungle', according to a city complaints watchdog.
Arre Zuurmond, Amsterdam's official city ombudsman, has exposed the ugly truth about Amsterdam in a rather grim depiction of the city's most frequented streets:
"The city centre becomes an urban jungle at night," he told Dutch newspaper Trouw (via the Mirror).
"Criminal money flourishes, there is no authority and police can no longer handle the situation."
To document the severity of the problem, Zuurmond - who moved to Amsterdam this summer, to observe just what happens on the streets at night - set up CCTV cameras close to bars around the popular Leidseplein Square and the results he recorded were shocking.
"One night we counted 900 offences, mainly between the hours of 2am and 4am," he continued. "The atmosphere is grim and there is an air of lawlessness.
"Scooters race through pedestrian areas. There is a lot of shouting. Drugs are being bought. There is stealing. People pee and even poop on the streets.
"There is violence but no action. You can even pee on the van of a mobile [police] and the driver won't say anything."
The laid-back Dutch capital is said to become dangerous once the sun goes down, when swarms of unruly people take to the streets - who Zuurmond claims are mainly men from the UK and other parts of the Netherlands.
The unruly people come in the form of big gangs celebrating the likes of stag parties or birthdays, particularly in the city's Red Light District.
Zuurmond said, about the Red Light District: "Streets are so packed in the evenings that there is a very unsafe public situation in the event of a fire or heart attack as emergency services can't get through."
The Red Light District is an area that's particularly popular with male tourists; however, it has a seriously high crime rate. Human trafficking has become a major cause for concern among the local authorities, who have launched a special project to try and combat the issue, and illegal drug trading is rife.
Zuurmond also warned about the 2,000 illegal taxis that roam the streets at night looking to pick up illegal fares from vulnerable tourists.
Amsterdam attracts a whopping 18 million tourists per year - that's more than total population of the Netherlands. Zuurmond now hopes that the city could be cleaned up using the same measures that were taken to improve the New York subway 20 years ago. He suggests the clean-up should start at Leidseplein Square.