On Tuesday, the police unions SLFP/VSOA and SNPS/NSPV pleaded for the same approach to be put in place at the Belgian coast as for festivals, following the fight that broke out in Blankenberge last weekend.
"At a festival, you cannot go in with a cool box full of strong alcoholic drinks and loudspeakers. It should be the same on the beach," said Vincent Houssin, vice-president of the SLFP Police union.
The unions say they are worried and want to take action against the "Brussels thugs" on the coast and elsewhere. "Violence against police officers has to be taken head-on," added Carlo Medo of the NSPV-SNPS.
Specific measures need to be taken, according to Houssin, starting with checks in the stations. "Some people call this ethnic profiling. But in reality, we identify troublemakers, or people known to the police and those who arrive in large groups. They just happen to be people from Brussels," he said.
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According to the unions, a festival-style approach to policing can work at the coast. "In festivals, it is normal that we do not accept drugs, music and strong drinks. And the police are not accused of ethnic profiling or restrictions of freedom," Houssin said.
Carlo Medo is in favour of a registration system before moving to the coast, with a "kind of paper" of confirmation, in order to be able to control. "It seems obvious to me at this time," he said, referring to the obligatory form introduced for journeys to Belgium.
"The Brussels government must cooperate. But it remains very silent," said Houssin. "If there were Antwerp hooligans in Brussels, they'd be the first to make themselves heard."
He called for an action plan in Brussels and for other big cities. The two trade union representatives want violence against police officers to be combated. "We want the promised zero tolerance."
The Brussels Times