Baarn goes to court in bid to give forestry wardens guns


The town council of Baarn, a leafy commuter town between Hilversum and Utrecht, has taken legal protection minister Franc Weerwind to court because he refused to sanction giving guns to council wardens who work in the surrounding woods. 

The council wants to equip its “green” wardens (known as boas) with guns and truncheons because they are increasingly being confronted with violence and threats while patrolling the town’s surrounding countryside.

Poachers after the abundant wildlife and walkers who are not keeping to the rules often react aggressively when confronted by wardens and that makes arming them vital, the town council says. In one case, a warden was knocked over by a mountain biker.

In October alone, wardens were confronted by armed drug gangs disposing of drug lab waste on five occasions, local broadcaster RTV Utrecht said. 

In principle, wardens can be given handcuffs, pepper spray and a gun, but the minister must approve each case. And Weerwind has said the situation in the woods around Baarn is not serious enough to merit it, even though most wardens work alone.  

The council disagrees and is now taking the minister to court. It argues that green wardens in Arnhem and Apeldoorn have been given guns and the problems they face are similar to those in Baarn. 

The verdict is due towards the end of January.  

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