Etterbeek: mayor orders arrest of homeless people refusing to take up night-shelter accommodation

On Sunday, Vincent De Wolf, the Mayor of Etterbeek, made a police order imposing administrative arrest for the homeless, who refuse take up winter accommodation when it is offered to them.

The Brussels commune states, “The Mayor is legally obliged to guarantee such individuals’ safety, and to offer assistance to those in need.”

This exceptional step is being taken at a time when the prospect of temperatures plummeting, as far as -10 degrees Celsius, in the coming days has been announced

Mayor De Wolf explains, “The homeless staying outside in these conditions risk developing hypothermia and even dying of cold.” He went on, “The police order permits, in cases of absolute necessity, the protection of the homeless who are placing themselves in danger in refusing accommodation, by allowing an administrative arrest.” Every homeless person, should be taken to a heated room within the commune. A doctor will be consulted to determine whether an individual’s state of health will place them in danger if they go back outside for the night. Depending upon the doctor’s opinion, the individual could be kept inside until dawn the following morning.

The police order will remain in force between 8 p.m. and 7 a.m., and through to March 8th for now. If the cold weather conditions continue, the measure may be extended.

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