In future Bruges police will offer refugees a wristband very similar to the ones used by tourists on all-in package holidays.
Loïc Fraiture of the organisation Friendship Without Borders relates the account of a group of Iranians. They had been sleeping out. The police detained them at regular intervals and seized their sleeping bags. At the same time they were marked, "as happens with cattle". "They all got a number on their hand".
A spokesman for Bruges police explained that to start off with markers were used, but the ink was not indelible. The number was needed so that the police could distinguish between the refugees. Philippe Tankrey: “When we detain them, they all end up in one communal cell. Some look very similar and communication is not easy. They have no papers, so this was the method we used to allow matters to proceed efficiently. We soon saw that there were more efficient ways of identifying people. We are using hospital wrist bands”.
Belgian police concede that mistakes have been made, but blame this on the sudden influx of refugees bound for the UK.