Arrested in Amsterdam… For Sleeping

Locked Up

In Amsterdam, the purchase and sale of drugs is quite legal. So too is prostitution. But God forbid you should dare to fall asleep outside.

After successfully starting our big bicycle / raft adventure, we (myself, the Monkey, and the Slovakian) have managed to cycle from Castle Acre, a little village in the UK, all the way to Germany. The old bicycles are still holding up and everyone has been lovely.

Except for one person. A policewoman.

During summer in Amsterdam, the parks are filled with tens of thousands of people, hundreds of whom are asleep at any given time. We met up with a friend of the Monkey and slept in the day under the sunshine as we took our first rest day on our journey. Then we slept through the night.

I was awoken to the demand of “Passport, now.” Immediately I knew that there was a problem. The motorbike- mounted policewoman then took the passports of the three of us who were sleeping (ignoring the one who was awake when she arrived) and took us too the police station.

At the police station, I was informed how very stupid I am (I quote “I think you are very stupid”) to travel without money and to try to cycle across a continent. Despite all the support people have given me, I stand corrected. Everything that has happened in the last couple of years of my life has been down to “50-50 luck.” We were very lucky to be found by the policewoman and not “the addicts who would rob you [us] and do bad things to you [us].”

I secretly recorded the audio of the conversation and will soon post highlights.

We were then issued a fine of €390 which we were unable to pay. Offered two choices, prison or paying the fine, we chose prison. After spending a couple of hours trying to scare us into paying, we still chose prison, citing lack of money as our reasoning. So she gave us court dates in December and January that we told her we could not make.

In hindsight, I realise now that everything that happened was motivated by money. She wanted us to pay and disappear. Because we would not / could not pay, the fine will now be increased. The woman wouldn’t even offer us help of how to pay the fine from abroad, telling us only that we would be hunted internationally for not attending the court date. With all her bluffing / scaremongering, I no longer know what to believe and when I have reviewed the audio, I will seek advice.

So now, I am a criminal. Thank-you to the police woman who made Amsterdam a safer place by fining such dangerous people as ourselves and ensuring that when we are unable to make our court dates, our fines will be further increased to even greater levels that we cannot pay. Some people really make the world great.

25 Comments

  • hi,
    due to appear in amsterdam court for graffiting a tram. if i return to uk and not show up at court wil they warrent an arrest in uk or mark my passport preventin future travelling.
    it was a stupid act but my working contract is due to end in mid september and it means me having to stay in amsterdam till end of october for court case. 19 yr old needing advice plz

  • Jamie, don´t let this cunt discourage you!!! Continue living the dream, you´re doing nothing wrong.

  • Wow, I can’t believe this happened to you. In behalf of all Dutch people, I hereby apologize for her behavior. No one should ever be treated like this!

  • This stupid Dutch policewoman surely is a great ambassador for her country; perhaps people like like this just are too stupid to realise that those of us, like myself, who may not be well travelled form an opinion of a country and its people through our experiences of those individuals that we do happen to meet. I still have a jaundiced view of the Swiss having spent ten hours trying to get three lorries through customs with no help, good humour or understanding whatsoever. However, I do rather like the Welsh

  • And then after they read this, you will be fined even more for illegally taping a conversation 😉 Even homeless people caught sleeping outside in Amsterdam get fined with the same amount (130 euro) and end up in prison because they can’t pay. I read that it’s a big political issue right now.

    • Didn’t think of that and have now been Googling it. I was previously thinking of writing them a letter with an audio transcript! What happens to the homeless people when they can’t pay?

      • Nothing really happens: they spend the night in prison and the next day they are released… until they are caught sleeping outside again. A crazy system! The cost to put someone in prison is higher than the fine itself, so that’s probably why they first want to make sure you really, really don’t have the money on you…

        • That is rather silly. No doubt the court procedures are also expensive, despite the fact I have to choice, but to be absent.

  • That is quite the story. I didn’t realize sleeping outside was that illegal. You won’t be hunted I don’t believe, but if you return to the Netherlands you could have trouble. Hopefully not though.

    Oh and I love the town of Castle Acre too. Such a cool little town and nice castle ruins.

  • This is turning out to be some adventure! Think of all the ridiculous stories you can tell the grandkids in years to come!

    I am sure you won’t be added to the world’s most wanted listed, but you may have troubles getting in and out of the country after the court case (that’s if you ever go back). Hope it pans out okay!

  • Wow, she must have been having a really bad day! Or maybe she was one of those bullies that just went to work for the police after highschool so she could keep bullying.

    Hope things get sorted for you, good luck.

  • Ugh. Hopefully this doesn’t go the same way as Dutch speeding tickets. If you get one of those and don’t pay it, it’s somehow linked to your passport and the next time you try to enter the country at Schiphol, they don’t let you in until you pay it!

  • This seems like a just a way to make some money off of all of you. I’m sure they won’t really be ‘hunting you down’ for a silly ticket, I mean you guys didn’t kill anyone! I wouldn’t worry about it too much- but I think maybe if you don’t pay the fine you won’t be able to go back to Amsterdam.

    Interested in hearing what the outcome of this is. Will you be getting advice from a lawyer?

    • I’ll be asking for advice on entering / leaving countries and the effects upon my passport. No lawyer, just here. And yes, she attempted to bluff us many times.

  • People who do not travel, have no idea what travelling is really. This women likely has not travelled a lot and so doesn’t know that actually the world is a pretty safe place to be in. It’s always the people who don’t travel that always tell you how dangerous and scary travelling is and I don’t think that is coincidence.

    • That’s true. It was sad because she stood for everything I don’t believe in, but she was the official and she had the power, so she waved that over me. In a different life we could have had a much more pleasant conversation.

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