Why should fashionistas beware of Dutch police now?

Nadja Beschetnikova
January 26, 2018

Freeze! It's the fashion police!

That's what you can hear soon walking down the street in the Dutch city of Rotterdam.

Rotterdam Police will try a new trial scheme, which allows to confiscate designer clothes if the wearer can’t prove they were lawfully purchased.

“We know they have clothes that are too expensive to wear with the money they get,” a spokesperson for the department said, “We’re going to look at how they get those clothes, where did they buy them, from where the money came that they buy them.”

The trial is due to start in the Rotterdam West section of the city and the police says they will target drug gangs in particular. 
Rotterdam police chief Frank Paauw told Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf: “They are often young men who consider themselves untouchable. We're going to undress them on the street."

So well, you should carefully consider what you wear now in Rotterdam, your Rolex watches and Gucci jackets could be targeted.

Weaknesses of this pilot project are obvious. Critics and Rotterdam residents are concerned about its implementation, which could possibly lead to racial profiling. Is there any risk of discrimination? Will a white guy walking around in an expensive jacket be as suspicious for police as minorities? It is often unclear how such a piece of clothing is paid and how old it is, so how the police plans to check the legitimateness?
There're still a lot of questions.

City official Anne Mieke Zwaneveld told Dutch newspaper AD that it is “legally very complicated” to take someone’s coat off the street.

Vice spoke to young people in the city and many of them don't really get the intentions of the police.

"They should be focused on cracking down on actual crime. This measure doesn't solve the problem, it just focuses on the symptoms. I own some expensive brands, and I, like everybody else, should be free to wear the clothes I feel comfortable in," said Jainy, 31.

Authorities defend the idea saying they only want to send a signal that the men will not be able to hang onto their ill-gotten gains. The main idea behind this endeavor is to reduce crime.  According to the spokesman, they're going to confiscate an expensive watch or coat when they think it was bought with the profits of those crimes.

The controversial program will run for a limited time, to test its effectiveness, and the Rotterdam police department will be collaborating with the public prosecution department to help them determine what items they can legally confiscate.