Train guards to have handcuffs
If approved, some 1,000 guards on NS railways will be given the authority to frisk passengers who refuse to comply with their requests.24 April 2008
THE NETHERLANDS - Dutch railway company NS wants to equip a number of its conductors with handcuffs. The company also wants some of its staff to be given the authority to frisk passengers on the train who refuse to show their ticket or identity card. NS is negotiating with the Ministry of Justice to give the go-ahead for a trial.
A spokesperson for the railways has confirmed a newspaper report in De Volkskrant on Thursday. The trial will last three months and will take place in the regions around the cities of Zwolle and Amsterdam. If it is a success, train conductors could also be armed with a truncheon.
Since January, NS has already set up mobile "security units" travelling from twenty locations. The units consist of specially trained conductors who are allowed to use a "suitable degree of force" to arrest aggressive passengers and hand them over to the police. The units operate on high risk lines and are deployed when passengers without a valid ticket refuse to prove their identity or become aggressive.
The units have been set up to protect ordinary conductors from situations in which they are confronted with aggression as the police are often not able to get to the scene quickly enough.
Not all 3,200 conductors will be given the same powers. The elite units will involve around a thousand guards. The trial will involve the trained special unit conductors. It is not known when the trial will begin as the ministry has not yet officially given permission for the plan.
Union leader Roel Berghuis supports the NS proposal. And an internet poll in De Volkskrant shows 63 percent of readers are also in favour. Railway consumer organisation Rover disagrees; on its website it says these kind of powers should be left to the police. Rover also wants the railway police restored after it was merged into the national police force a number of years ago. The organisation also says NS should concentrate on properly training its ordinary guards.
[Radio Netherlands / Expatica]
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