Brussels clashes: "No No-Go areas!”

"Totally unacceptable", that is how interior minister Pieter De Crem has labelled the clashes between youngsters and the fire service and police in Brussels on New Year's Eve.  Incidents were reported from Molenbeek and Anderlecht where there was sizeable damage.

Mr De Crem questions the preparedness of Brussels police and calls for a clamp down to ensure no No-Go areas are allowed to develop: "Brussels should have planned more carefully for the eventuality of such incidents, given the fact that similar problems occurred in the past."

Mr De Crem has no criticism of fire-fighters and police officers in the field, but questions whether the police structures at police zone and regional level are working.  He intends to launch an investigation into the planning procedure to see who does what and who doesn’t.  After Flemish minister for Brussels Sven Gatz pointed to the high number of police vacancies Mr De Crem insisted that recruitment would receive special attention this year: "Last year we recruited 2,500 officers.  We plan to recruit similar numbers this year.  The means are available. If this is part of the problem I am prepared to give a commitment."

Two suspects were detained and charged with resisting arrest and threatening behaviour.  One has meanwhile been released.

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