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Police response to New Year's Eve violence 'totally inadequate'

20:47 06/01/2019

The police's preparations for New Year's Eve in Brussels were "totally inadequate" - and their response to the outbreaks of violence demonstrated "misjudgment", interior minister Pieter De Crem has said.

In an interview with VTM Nieuws on Sunday, the new interior minister said the way police handled events on 31 December showed there was an urgent need to merge the capital's local police divisions into one city-wide force.

He said police in the affected areas - mostly Molenbeek - did not ask for reinforcements from neighbouring police zones.

"When the disorder broke out, with looting and vandalism, they did not react appropriately," De Crem said.

The Etangs Noirs district of Molenbeek was particularly affected, with several cars torched, shop windows smashed and a pharmacy looted.

"One unified police zone in Brussels is the only solution," De Crem said, "with a command unit to better prepare for situations, as well as better training of staff."

The public prosecutor's office said that, despite the incidents in Molenbeek, the number of violent acts reported in Brussels on New Year's Eve was down on previous years.

Photo: Hatim Kaghat/Belga

Written by The Bulletin