Brussels City Council is contemplating the possibility of following the Etterbeek commune’s lead. The commune decided, on Sunday, to arrest the homeless who refuse to stay overnight in accommodation during this period of extremely cold weather. The point was indicated, on Monday, by Wafaa Hammich, the Press Officer for the Mayor of Brussels City Council, Philippe Close.
If Close were to take similar coercive measures, he would call for the mutual support of the region’s other communes. There are four reception centres located in the area over which Brussels City Council’s remit extends.
On Sunday, the Mayor of Etterbeek, Vincent De Wolf, made a police order imposing administrative arrest upon any homeless individuals, who refuse to stay in winter accommodation. He justifies this decision by the council’s legal responsibility to guarantee the safety of individuals, and to offer assistance to those in need. Each homeless person must be taken to a heated room within the commune.
A doctor will be consulted to determine whether the given individual’s state of health would be placed in danger if they go back outside. Where appropriate, the person will be able to be kept inside until dawn on the following day.
The police order applies between the hours of 8 p.m. and 7 a.m., and until March 8th. This extraordinary measure has been taken as temperatures, which could potentially plummet to -10 degrees Celsius, have been announced for the coming days. If these weather conditions were to continue for a further period, the police order will be able to be extended.