New Year’s Eve in Brussels saw police called out 528 times for incidents including more than 20 cars set on fire and other breaches of curfew.
The police interventions related to illegal possession of fireworks in 59 cases and 62 for failure to respect the curfew in the Brussels-Ixelles police zone alone. Police in the zone also filed reports of 13 illegal parties in Ixelles commune, and 10 in Laeken.
Lockdown parties were also reported in Brussels-North zone (15 cases) and Brussels-South (one case).
Parties and fireworks are only to be expected. Setting fires, on the other hand, was the biggest problem in Brussels-Ixelles on the night, with 55 calls to police for street furniture set on fire, and fire brigades called out 10 times, including three for house fires.
Three cars were set on fire in Anderlecht and one in Forest. In Schaerbeek police caught a group of youths in possession of Molotov cocktails, and one bicycle stand was set alight.
In the end, cars had been set on fire in the South zone (11), the North zone (2), in the West zone (2) and in the Marlow zone (3). In addition, two mopeds were set on fire in Schaerbeek.
“It was much quieter than other years,” said Christophe Claessens, commissioner of the Brussels-South zone. “In general, the curfew was well respected, which meant that we had much less inconvenience from regular revellers. We did have a number of young people playing cat and mouse games with the police. Once they were arrested, everything quieted down pretty quickly.”
Elsewhere, the emergency call number in Walloon Brabant received more than 300 calls, with 305 more to police in the 12 hours to 07.00 on Friday. Most concerned illegal fireworks, together with alcohol-fuelled fights and domestic disputes.
Police in Liege also had to deal with three car fires, although an expected disturbance on one major housing estate turned to nothing after local police on the ground managed to defuse the situation.
In Antwerp, police broke up three illegal parties and lade 30 arrests, but reported that New Year this year had been calmer than usual.
Meanwhile police in Lede near Aalst in East Flanders discovered the body of a 59-year-old woman in premises that had been raided for an illegal party. The cause of death is unknown, and people who had attended the party are being questioned.