Federal police arrived at the Forest and Saint-Gilles prisons on Friday to ensure security there, but left immediately after, apparently in a bad mood, the Socialist mayors of Forest, Marc-Jean Ghyssels, and Saint-Gilles, Charles Picqué, said on Friday. Both said they were worried about the impact this situation could have on the tension inside the two penitentiaries.
Picqué appealed to “the sense of responsibility of the federal police given the risk that the tensions in the prisons could become unmanageable”. Contact has been made to that end with the Commissioner General of the Federal Police, Catherine De Bolle, he told Belga news agency.
According to Ghyssels, the departure of the police has led, for example, to the suspension of access to the court yard and the changing of laundry in the prisons. He said it was the responsibility of the Minister of the Interior, Jan Jambon, to ensure that federal police are deployed in the striking prisons.
The Forest mayor also said he was worried by the words of Deputy Prime Minister Didier Reynders, who said he could not understand why there were strikes only in prisons in the French-speaking part of the country whereas “as minister in charge of the Building Authority in the previous government, he had validated the highest investments in prisons in the [Dutch-speaking] north of the country”.
For Charles Picqué, there can be no question of leaving the problem to the area police, who already have to cope with a “huge number of overtime hours”. He said “that would be an unacceptable transfer of responsibilities, not to mention that the same type of reaction could spread to the area police”.