The Brussels South Police Zone has seen an increase in the number of lockdown parties being had, handing out 276 fines for such events in just the first three months of the year.
There were a total of 762 fines issued overall for violating coronavirus measures, according to reporting from Bruzz, and police say the issue is weighing heavily on an understaffed department.
“We find that the officers are exhausted after a year of controls, and this while we are in the middle of a third wave,” police councillor Gaëtan Van Goidsenhoven told La Capitale.
The Brussels South Police Zone includes Anderlecht, Saint-Gilles, and Forest. Since the start of the pandemic, the three neighbourhoods racked up 6,282 fines for noncompliance with coronavirus measures intended to lessen the spread of the global pandemic.
In Anderlecht, 32.6% of those fines were for parties in 2020, which has increased to 42.02% for this year so far.
The mayors of the three municipalities have called for police reinforcement, saying that the standards that determine how many officers must be financed in a particular zone are based on old data that doesn’t reflect increases in the region’s population.
“In Anderlecht, we now have 25,000 more inhabitants than when this standard was drawn up,” said the mayor of Anderlecht, Fabrice Cumps.
The police force received a reinforcement of about 30 officers last summer following a series of confrontations between the police and residents of the Cureghem neighbourhood.
“We did indeed have reinforcements in the summer to maintain security, but in the time since then, those extra officers have been placed elsewhere,” said Cumps.
“It is impossible to conduct good local policy if there are no personnel,” said police councillor Sofia Bennani. “The reinforcements for large events offer little support in matters such as establishing social ties with the population.”
Bennani is asking Minister of the Interior Annelies Verlinden to provide the zone with the necessary budget to recruit new officers.
Currently, the police zones in Brussels are struggling with a shortage of 3,000 officers.
The Brussels Times