The police in the six police zones of Brussels will have direct and real-time access to the images from cameras on board Stib metro trains, as well as buses and trams from June, according to the RTBF.
The French-speaking public broadcaster was interviewing Laurent Masset, spokesperson for the police zone Uccle, Auderghem and Watermael-Boitsfort.
At present, police work together with the Stib via joint patrols with Stib security. While security officers check passenger’s tickets, police are on hand to ensure their safety, as well as to check the identity of anyone caught fare-dodging.
Local police also have the option of patrolling inside metro stations, although that is more the responsibility of the federal police.
The zone represented by Masset includes five metro stations, which present a particular difficulty for police. When police officers enter a metro station at present they can no longer be followed by security cameras.
“Up to now we’re blinded, because we have no more images. In addition, there are hundreds of people in one place at the same time. With all the risks that there are, it’s important to know what’s happening and to be able to plan a police intervention if necessary. Having some context is very important to know how many officers to send and what the potential risks are.”
However the police will not be keeping watch over the movements of members of the public at all times, Masset said.
“We have dispatchers who are constantly watching camera images. They will not be watching the metro stations at all times. If we receive a call about suspicious activity of when a patrol goes down into the metro. Then, our dispatchers bring up the images. That makes the best use of resources, as we can easily find out what’s going on.
“For example, say we receive an emergency call, but the person can’t exactly describe the situation. If they say, there’s a fight in the metro, we’re likely to send a lot of people because we’re not exactly aware of the situation. But if we have access to images and we see two people fighting, we’re better able to evaluate how many officers we have to send.”