Minister does u-turn, agrees to give street wardens short batons

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

Local council street wardens are to be given the right to carry short batons as protection, under new rules being drawn up by justice minister Ferd Grapperhaus.

The wardens, known as boas in Dutch, will be equipped with batons if local mayors and police chiefs think it necessary, Grapperhaus said in a briefing to MPs. The draft legislation will be finalised before the summer and could be implemented ‘within several months’.

The wardens have been campaigning to be given weapons, saying they are too often being left helpless in violent situations. There have been several high profile cases of boas being attacked in recent weeks.

Wardens who draw their weapons will have explain why they were used in a formal report, Grapperhaus said. Boas who are licenced to use weapons will also have to undergo a special training programme, he said.

The minister said just last week that he did not favour giving wardens batons or other weapons because the right of using violence should be restricted to the police.

He has also pledged to decide before the end of the year if wardens should also be given access to pepper spray, but made no reference in his briefing to tazers. The Volkskrant reported earlier that the minister was also considering equipping wardens with electric stun guns.

Wardens can currently be armed on an ad-hoc basis, but the new legislation will ensure there are uniform rules nationwide.

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