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    Brussels police zoom in on Alhambra

    Following complaints by area residents, complete with video footage, of repeated incidents of drug trafficking and other crimes, Alhambra district in the centre of Brussels has become a priority zone for police, Brussels Mayor Philippe Close said on Monday evening. Tired of the number of offences there, linked mainly to drug trafficking, drug abuse and prostitution, the neigbourhood committee decided to publish highly explicit video clips of such incidents in early August.

    Asked at a communal council meeting on Monday evening by New Flemish Alliance (N-VA) councilor Johan Van den Driessche about initiatives taken to restore calm in the neighbourhood, Philippe Close said Alhambra has been a “police priority action zone” since 16 August.

    This translates into daily joint actions involving various police services, in uniform and out of uniform, to help catch offenders red handed, he explained.  

    The mayor has also signed a decree authorizing systematic identity checks there since mid-August.

    This month alone, 296 such checks were conducted, while police issued 22 citations for legal offences as well as 22 others for traffic offences and 4 fines.

    Eight persons were arrested, six reports were sent to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and many alcohol and drug tests were administered on drivers.

    Plainclothes police alone conducted 54 identity checks and issued 18 citations for drug trafficking, concealment, public drunkenness and bearing illegal weapons.

    Problem situations were also checked with the labour department, leading to the closure of a bar.

    Oscar Schneider
    The Brussels Times