Amsterdam mayor lobbies to equip street wardens with pepper spray

Street wardens on duty. Photo:
Street wardens on duty. Photo:

Amsterdam’s mayor Femke Halsema has written to the justice ministry outlining her wish to equip the city council’s street wardens with pepper spray.

The wardens, known as BOAs in Dutch, have been campaigning to have both the disabling spray and batons included as a standard part of their equipment. They are already equipped with handcuffs but say they need better protection to cope with rising aggression.

National rules state that BOAs can only be given the spray if they also carry batons. This, Halsema says, would be going too far, hence her call on the minister to sanction the use of the spray only.

‘Pepper spray is less likely to cause injury than a baton, can be a defensive weapon and contribute to improving BOA safety,’ the mayor said in her letter.

A majority of Amsterdam councillors opposes giving BOAs weapons and members of the left wing coalition have not yet commented on the mayor’s suggestion, the Parool said.

Bij1 councillor Sylvana Simons said she doubted the move would lead to a structural decrease in violence. ‘What is needed is more colleagues, more training in de-escalating violence and a proper vision to deal with the increased aggression in society,’ she told the paper.

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