“It’s fine on the other side, it’s fine on the other side!” sing five rowdy, dancing Brits, to the tune of the Pet Shop Boys’ “Go West”. On the other side of the 14th century Oudezijds Achterburgwal canal, a cluster of partying men yodel back. It is midnight on a Friday in the heart of Amsterdam’s De Wallen district, and I am on a reconnaissance tour with Amsterdam’s Night Watch.

This is not the Night Watch memorialised by Rembrandt in 1642, the civic militia that would defend the city of Amsterdam from outside attack. Now the enemy is within, in the area named for the old city walls, but now infamous as the red-light district of Amsterdam. Els Iping and her neighbour Romeo are pacing the streets. Armed with quiet words and high-vis jackets, they are part of the “Wallen Watch”, a local vigilante defence force against drunken, doped-up tourists on raucous, licentious holidays.

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