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De Crem: "Errors of judgement were made”

The Federal Interior Minster Pieter De Crem (Flemish Christian democrat) has criticised the organisation and planning of the Brussels West Local Police Service on New Year’s Eve. Shortly after midnight the New Year’s celebration turned violent in the area around the Zwarte Vijvers metro station in Sint-Jans-Molenbeek. 

Several cars were burned out and two shops were looted. Around a kilometre away near to the Ribaucourt metro station two houses were badly damaged by fire and a car burned out.    

When asked if errors of judgement had been made with regard to the police operation on Monday evening, Mr De Crem told the presenter of the commercial television channel VTM’s lunchtime news programme that "This is certainly the case”. The Interior Minister bases his assertion on a preliminary report into the events of New Year’s Eve.

"Initially no request for reinforcements was made. There were extra officers on call in the Brussels-Capital Region and they knew that reinforcements could be requested. They didn’t ask for any. Afterwards when the rioting started they didn’t react appropriately. It was only then that reinforcements were requested. The reinforcements arrived straight away and were said (by the Brussels-West Local Police) to be sufficient to deal with the situation. This was also clearly an error of judgement. As regards preparation, planning and acting adequately the police judged the situation wrongly", Mr De Crem said.       

One policing area for the whole of Brussels?

Mr De Crem added that one local police service for the whole of the Brussels-Capital Region would provide a logical solution for a more efficient police service for the capital.   

He added that "This is inevitable. The events of recent days that have been the cause of a great deal of confusion and it can only be that they will push politicians towards a unified policing area".

Mr De Crem says that he will do the preparatory work as it will be on the table during the negotiations for a new Federal Government.