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AD/Utrechts Nieuwsblad, 7 August 2015: 'Swimming without ID not allowed'

Privacy foundation highly critical of identification requirement at swimming pools 

Utrecht asks visitors to the Krommerijn and Den Hommel swimming pools for their identity documents (ID). If you do not have it with you, you will be refused entry. This is allowed, as it is in the house rules, but privacy lobbyist Privacy First calls the measure disproportionate.

Swimming enthusiasts were puzzled on Monday when cashiers at swimming pool de Krommerijn asked them for proof of identity. If they could not show it, they were denied entry. "I don't always take my ID to the pool. My daughter's ID has also been stolen twice in the pool," expelled visitor Peter Fokkema indignantly told Utrecht news site DUIC.

The municipality of Utrecht, which is responsible for the two swimming pools, admits that identification is "randomly" asked for. ''We want a safe atmosphere so that everyone can swim with pleasure. We do it randomly to avoid any semblance of discrimination," says spokesperson Mara Hoogveld, referring to the house rules that state the identification requirement. ''We ask especially on busy days, like last Monday. Then there were over 3,000 people in the Krommerijn and Den Hommel. Especially on such days, things have to run smoothly."

According to her, the measure does not come out of the blue. "There have already been 15 incidents this year. These range from fights between mothers and brawls between groups of youths, to threats to staff by large and small groups and to wanton youths." The pools have already handed out six disqualifications.

Utrecht does not think this is a heavy-handed remedy. After all, everyone is obliged to carry an ID to show it at the request of the police, the municipality argues.

Question marks

Privacy First, a foundation that stands up for the right to privacy, strongly questions the course of action. "It is out of proportion. If even the police are allowed to ask for your ID only on reasonable suspicion of a crime, why is someone in the swimming pool allowed to do so? That goes even further than what the police are allowed, which is an entirely wrong development," fetes director Vincent Böhre.

Yet the municipality is legally covered by the Compulsory Identification Act. That states that private individuals may also ask for your ID. You may refuse, but then you have to accept that you are not allowed to enter a building, in this case the swimming pool. Böhre finds it ridiculous that people are refused entry for this reason. "If you pay a neat entrance fee, surely you have the right to come?"

Source: AD/Utrechts Nieuwsblad, 7 August 2015, front page. Also published on

Postscript Privacy First: Contrary to what the municipality of Utrecht seems to claim, in the Netherlands proof of identity is subject to a show duty, no carry obligation. Read HERE an earlier guest column on the subject.