THE NETHERLANDS. The justice minister plans to allow street wardens – civil servants who carry out a variety of duties for local authorities – to have weapons such as pepper spray and batons, the Volkskrant said on Monday.
The paper says the wardens, known as boas in Dutch, are so often the target of violence that ministers feel they should be given more means to defend themselves. And the police, who up until now have opposed giving wardens pepper spray, were involved in the decision.
The wardens union BOA Bond has been campaigning for the country’s 23,500 boas to be given some form of weapon. Spokesman Ruud Kuin described the government’s position as ‘a breakthrough’.
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 aim is to make sure there is a uniform policy nationwide, the paper said.
‘The talks are ongoing but our position is clear,’ a spokesman for justice minister Ferd Grapperhaus told the paper. ‘Measures must be taken to ensure uniformity.’
In Amsterdam, wardens do not have weapons, and the city’s police force had opposed the move. But in 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.
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