ROBIN UTRECHT

Homeless people in Etterbeek face being detained if they refuse to go to a shelter

The Mayor of Etterbeek in Etterbeek (Brussels) Vincent De Wolf (Francophone liberal) has decided that homeless people in his municipality can be taken into preventative custody if they refuse a place in a shelter during the cold snap. 

Homeless people in Etterbeek that fail to seek a bed for the night in an emergency shelter can be picked up from the street by police and detained. The Mayor of Etterbeek Vincent De Wolf told VRT Radio 2 Flemish Brabant and Brussels that he decided to take what some may see as a severe measure in the interest the homeless people in Etterbeek’s safety.

"It is indeed the case that homeless people are obliged to follow community police officers to the shelter. If they refuse, they have to go to a doctor that will examine them and decide whether they would be in danger if they were to remain on the streets. If this proves to be the case, they will be made to go to the shelter.”

"The current cold temperatures, down to -10°C and lower are special circumstances and so we have decided to increase capacity at our shelter”, Mr De Wolf added.

"There is also room for between 20 and 30 people in a building next to the Fontenay Park. The measure came into force straight away on Monday evening and as things stand will remain in force until Monday 15 February”. 

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