SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Street wardens in Amsterdam, Zandvoort and Alkmaar are among the council officials in 10 towns and cities nationwide who will be equipped with batons to protect themselves in a yearlong experiment.
The experiment has been sanctioned by justice minister Ferd Grapperhaus after a long campaign by wardens who say they are being exposed to violence while going about their daily duties.
There have been several high-profile cases of wardens, known as boas in Dutch, being attacked since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
The minister said earlier this year that he did not favour giving wardens batons or other weapons because the right of using violence should be restricted to the police. However in June he did a u-turn following pressure from boa unions and some local mayors.
The minister said he is also working on new legislation which will allow local mayors and police chiefs to equip wardens with weapons if they think it necessary. The draft legislation will be finalised next summer, Grapperhaus said.
Wardens can currently be armed on an ad-hoc basis, but the new legislation will ensure there are uniform rules nationwide.