Street wardens urge minister to give them weapons as a priority

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

The Dutch street wardens’s union NBB have asked justice minister Ferd Grapperhaus to use emergency legislation to equip them with truncheons and pepper spray as soon as possible.

Street wardens – civil servants, who are known as boas in Dutch – were involved in two violent incidents during the Easter weekend when they tried to stop people breaking the 1.5 metre social distancing rule.

One ended up with concussion, another was spat at and kicked, NBB chairman Ruud Kuin said in the letter to the minister. The union says that wardens should be weaponised because they are increasingly being confronted with aggression while going about their duties.

Grapperhaus had indicated last October that he was prepared to meet the wardens’ demands.


As local civil servants, ministers have little say over the wardens, who are currently equipped with handcuffs and sometimes bodycams to record incidents.

But many local authorities already allow their wardens to have pepper spray, for example, and the minister wants to make sure there is a uniform policy nationwide, the Volkskrant said at the time.

In Amsterdam, wardens do not have weapons, and the city’s police force had opposed the move. But last May, Amsterdam’s mayor Femke Halsema wrote to the justice ministry outlining her wish to equip the city council’s street wardens with pepper spray.

Rotterdam is equipping all its 400 street wardens with bodycams at a cost of €250,000, city officials decided last year.

Rotterdam alderman Bert Wijbenga said an experiment with cameras had led to people being less aggressive because they knew they were being filmed. ‘And the wardens know they are being filmed, and take that into account as well,’ Wijbenga said.

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