Student parties which fail to heed the corona measures are a thorn in the side of the police. Partygoers bombard police officers who try to intervene. Nor do they keep their distance either, which means that officers are forced to go into quarantine. Shelley van der Veen, the local police officer for Kralingen-Oost, Erasmus University Rotterdam and Excelsior, has often been called to action in recent weeks along with her colleagues.

“I get called out several times during each shift because illegal gatherings have been reported,” says Van der Veen. “Not only in the weekend, but on weekdays too. Often these involve large groups of people who then all meet up together.” Saturday 24 October, a student party was held where one hundred people turned up at Xior, a private student housing complex right next to the Erasmus University. Last Saturday, a Halloween party was organised at the same location which 150 students attended.

“This kind of behaviour really exceeds all limits,” says Van der Veen. “We had to chase after partygoers because they were scared of being fined. We constantly had to warn them to keep their distance from us. As police, you find yourself in an unsafe situation then.”

Ten police officers forced into quarantine

Shelley van der Veen
Neighbourhood police officer Shelley van der Veen

Police officers who come into contact with partygoers infected with corona are subjected to a mandatory quarantine. Last week this happened to ten police officers after they had to break up an illegal party in Alblasserdam. The partygoers refused to end the party and threw chairs and glasses at the officers. “I find that absolutely shocking,” says Van der Veen. “We are only doing what we have to do. We never intervene in order to annoy people.”

As a consequence of the quarantine regulations, it is sometimes a bit of a puzzle to deploy enough officers on the streets. “Some core teams have to do that with a skeleton crew. At the moment, we have fewer officers than we would like to have. All the same, the streets really do need to be kept safe.”

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Fining partygoers is impractical

The way in which illegal parties are dealt with depends on the situation. The aim of intervention is to put an end to any unsafe situations and, in many cases, to put an end to any disturbances. “It is not always practical to fine every partygoer whenever very large groups of people are involved. In those cases, our own safety takes precedence.” That is why Van der Veen regularly speaks to property managers, residents are reprimanded, and universities get involved. “They have got to make it clear to students that this kind of behaviour is totally unacceptable.”

Van der Veen admits that the present situation is tough for young people. This is mainly because lectures are not being held in person and students are left sitting in their rooms all alone. “I really can understand that students miss having parties. After all, you only get to experience student life once.” Nevertheless, it is about time that students look beyond their own personal situations. “We have got to do this together.”

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Despite students’ misconduct, Van der Veen does not wish to paint a negative picture of young people. “Lots of students do stick to the measures. I admire how flexible they are during this period.”

Van der Veen believes that ultimately, it is best -even for the students themselves -if everyone sticks to the measures. “We have to make sure that we don’t end up with even stricter measures or restrictions. That’s not going to make anyone happy.”