Saint-Gilles prison overcrowding: Picqué threatens prohibition on access for further prisoners
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    Saint-Gilles prison overcrowding: Picqué threatens prohibition on access for further prisoners

    © Belga
    Charles Picqué believes that the time may have come to make an order to prevent overcrowding in Saint-Gilles prison.
    © Belga

    Charles Picqué, the Socialist Party Mayor of the Saint-Gilles commune, is threatening to make an order prohibiting the arrival of further inmates at Saint-Gilles prison. He says that since last week the prison’s maximum capacity has been exceeded. The Mayor of Saint-Gilles asserted yesterday (Wednesday), “Currently in place of the ceiling of 850 prisoners, there are no less than 900 individuals imprisoned in Saint-Gilles.”

    Picqué stated, “Last year, after more than two months of strikes in the various prisons throughout the country and in Saint-Gilles, the Minister of Justice had announced proposals to make Forest prison a facility for prisoners serving sentences and Saint-Gilles a remand prison. The prisoner-number limit in Saint-Gilles had been increased to 850 prisoners. At that time, I had stated that I would monitor the development of compliance with this threshold.”

    As alluded to above, Mr Picqué says that the number of Saint-Gilles prisoners is currently 900. Following several talks with trade union representatives, the Mayor has decided to “take the necessary steps.”

    In his view, the risk for the safety of prisoners, visitors and prison wardens is becoming too great to take no action.

    Charles Picqué added that “In practical terms, if the situation does not to develop favourably by the end of the week,” he will be “obliged to make an order prohibiting the entry of additional inmate numbers at the prison.”

    He said, “The effect of this would be that although the prison population will not go below the specified threshold of 850 prisoners, which is already a high number, the police services will have to prevent the entry of further prisoners.”

    Mr Picqué concluded, “My hope is that by then the federal government, informed of the seriousness of the situation, will properly shoulder the burden of its responsibilities.”

    Lars Andersen
    The Brussels Times