Concerns over people increasingly bringing weapons on trains
Security officers hired to patrol the NS train lines have issued a warning to NS management over the amount of brass knuckles and stabbing weapons found when searching people suspected of violations. About 650 enforcement workers co-signed a letter asking that they be allowed to carry their own weaponry, like batons, because they say police are often slower to respond to their calls for help at a time when passenger aggression has become more frequent, according to Trouw.
Passengers may be searched for a variety of reasons, including failure to identify oneself, not wearing a face mask, or skipping out on train fare. Some of the stabbing implements found include military knives, butcher knives, awls and even klewangs, a type of handled blade as long as 75 centimeters.
“Every day there are incidents and they have increased during the corona crisis,” said Richard Gerrits of the BOA-ACP union representing the workers in an interview with NOS Radio. He said the NS has not made the issue a priority but the union will keep pressing the matter. “We will not wait for the first death,” Gerrits said.
The workers want the baton as a means of keeping people at a greater distance, or to protect themselves from violence. The NS has refused multiple requests for this, according to NOS.
Steef Danse from BOA-ACP blamed “young dudes up to the age of 25” in an interview with Trouw. He said they are typically “representative of the rap culture.”
More people are trying to get away without paying because they believe train cars are not being checked. “People also think that they can travel for free because they wear a face mask,” Gerrits continued.
BOA-ACP cited internal figures from the NS that showed that aggressive incidents over the first half of 2020 were up 30 percent compared to the same period a year earlier. Trouw noted 3,068 incidents of violence involving a NS security worker in 2019, an average of over eight per day.
Dutch public transit organization Openbaar Vervoer Nederland said there are about 150 incidents of spitting, searing, and more serious violence on a weekly basis just with regard to the mandatory face mask policy on all public transportation in the Netherlands including the train system.