City council to help police clean up Red Light District

RNW archive

This article is part of the RNW archive. RNW is the former Radio Netherlands Worldwide or Wereldomroep, which was founded as the Dutch international public broadcaster in 1947. In 2011, the Dutch government decided to cut funding and shift RNW from the ministry of Education, Culture and Science to the ministry of Foreign Affairs. More information about RNW Media’s current activities can be found at

The Amsterdam city council is going to help police track down illegal prostitution and crime in the Red Light District. Special council workers are being recruited and trained to assist police by checking prostitutes’ papers, according to the freesheet Spits.

At the moment it is only the police who check whether the prostitutes working in the sex industry are legal immigrants and that they have not been forced into the world's oldest profession.

The idea is that the city council and the police combine forces to prevent illegality and human trafficking. The council workers’ main duty will be checking the papers of prostitutes to make sure they are working legally.

Human trafficking
They will also be trained to spot signs of human trafficking. If they come across other criminal activities, such as money laundering, they will pass the information on to the police.

It is possible that the council workers will be granted special status, making them a special investigating officers. The council is currently recruiting people for the new post.

Amsterdam is the first city council to take such measures. Initially the new system will be introduced for three years an it will be evaluated every year.

Sleazy image
Two years ago, the city council announced a crack down on crime in the Red Light District. A raft of measures have been introduced to rid the area of its sleazy image.

As a result, entrepreneurs in the area are screened for criminal records before being allowed a licence. Many of the windows once occupied by prostitutes are now filled by shop window dummies wearing designs by fashion students.

The area has been earmarked for an upgrade. The council hopes to attract more restaurants, cultural institutes and businesses from the creative sector. The transformation, which has been dubbed Coalition Project 1012 after the area postcode, is due to take 10 years.

Many Amsterdammers feel the council is taking its nanny state tactics too far and there have been a number of demonstrations against the council's plans.