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Drugs, crime and few police: Residents of Brussels' North district have had enough

08:54 30/03/2023

Residents of the Brussels North district say they have had enough with the constant crime and lack of police presence or reaction from authorities.

Shopkeepers and workers in particular are upset, RTBF reports, as owners see profits fall and employees fear for their safety.

A group of 20 or so residents and workers gathered in front of their local police station this week for a demonstration, saying that constant thefts, attacks and trafficking have made their lives unbearable.

The de facto association of the inhabitants of the Northern Quarter, which organised the rally, denounced the impunity of traffickers, criminals and organised gangs against whom the local police are “powerless because of a lack of human resources”.

“Today, we really want to send out an SOS,” said the group's spokesman, Thierry Balsat. “The northern district has become a lawless zone.”

The association has drawn up a list of demands, which include, among other things, the provision of more human resources for the Brussels North police zone, notably by calling on the national reserve.

It also calls for an increased police presence on the ground, the setting up of an emergency hotline accessible 24 hours a day and more communication and awareness-raising on the issues raised.

“We have made it known that we are not against police, but with them,” said Balsat, but added officers need to act immediately: “If we are not heard in a fortnight, we will organise a blockade of the neighbourhood.”

A spokesperson for the Brussels North police zone said police were investing heavily in the neighbourhood.

“We really have the support of our authorities to continue recruiting," the spokesperson said. "But like any police zone, if we could have a little more we would be very happy.”

Written by Helen Lyons