Fusing the police departments is the “only solution” to violence in Brussels

Fusing the police departments is the “only solution” to the violence that marred New Year’s celebrations in Brussels, the new Home Affairs minister Pieter De Crem told VTM on Sunday.

One Molenbeek commune in particular saw incidents of serious violence such as vehicles being set on fire, windows being smashed, law enforcement being obstructed. A pharmacy was looted.

The CD&V minister has previously criticised the police’s lack of planning. “A unified Brussels police department is the only solution: a unified command would be able to better evaluate and prepare for the situation and adequately train staff”, he said.

Pieter De Crem said “the events of the last few days” and their impact is likely to lead to the various departments being fused. He plans to pave the way for it and has said that he will submit the idea to the next government.

The Prosecutor’s office said the number of violent incidents in Brussels on New Year’s Eve actually went down, aside from the violence in the Etangs Noirs neighbourhood of Molenbeek.

The North of the country has often called for the different Brussels police departments to be fused, along with the region’s communes, in keeping with the Antwerp model. However, French-speaking parties fear it is the Dutch-speaking minority in Brussels trying to take taking control of the institutions, so have opposed it.

The last government bill, drawn up with the help of former Home Affairs minister Jan Jambon, encourages synergy and initiatives to fuse the departments.

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