Security guards working in and outside Norway’s government ministries and at the residence of the prime minister say they can’t do their jobs, since they’ve been prohibited from carrying batons or pepper spray. Their ability to defend themselves and the offices they’re supposed to protect is thus minimal at best, they claim.
“If someone comes into the reception area and begins to (make trouble), we have no other possibility but to run,” Terje Arnesen, who represents colleagues in the state ministerial security and service organization DSS, told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) on Monday.
“We can’t get into a scuffle with a person carrying a knife, for example,” Arnesen added. “If we had the means of disabling the person, it would be simple.”
Only police can carry weapons
DSS had applied to the ministry in charge of government administration, headed by Minister Jan Tore Sanner of the Conservative Party, for permission to carry batons and pepper spray. They also requested limited authority to, among other things, demand removal of parked cars near government buildings.
It was all turned down, even after government ministries were bombed just three years ago by a long Norwegian right-wing extremist who drove a bomb-laden van up to the Office of the Prime Minister, parked it and set it off.
Government bureaucrats themselves turned down the security guards’ request. “Only the police can have such police authority in Norway, and therefore permission to use such defense items,” claimed Eivind Dale, administrative head of the ministry. “Nor is there any possibility to grant dispensation from these rules.”
Dale’s refusal to grant the security guards’ request comes despite a recent updating of the threat situation facing Norway. In it, Norway’s police intelligence unit PST (Politiets sikkerhetstjeneste) wrote that the police, military personnel and politicians can be especially vulnerable to terrorist attack in the foreseeable future.
The security guards are thus frustrated in their attempts to provide real security. Since they can’t use anything to defend themselves or overpower an intruder or threatening person, they have responded that they no longer can work outdoors.
“Today we’re highly visible,” Arnesen told NRK. “We’re out and about, have our eyes open and try to take care of everything tied to security. If we can’t do that, we must re-evalute and look at other means of securing government employees. One example would be to only work indoors.”