The bank BNP Paribas Fortis has employed bodyguards to accompany its staff to and from the nearby North station in Brussels, after complaints of an unsafe environment.
Bank employees who use the station to commute to and from work had previously complained of a feeling of insecurity in the station environs, as well as receiving misogynistic comments as they passed by.
“The problem affects employees of our call centre who work in shifts, the last of whom work until 10 pm,” bank spokesperson Hilde Junius explained.
“Several of our colleagues no longer feel safe in recent weeks, which is why we are now deploying security staff. There are concerns loiterers who also make comments, especially to our female colleagues, which makes them feel threatened.”
Police have been informed.
“We work together with various companies in the area and with local residents who keep us informed of the situation,” Audrey-Dereymaeker of the Brussels-North police zone told the VRT.
“Since the beginning of this year, we have increased the number of patrols. But the situation has deteriorated in recent weeks. That is why we are now also deploying patrols later in the evening. We are also planning large-scale operations in the coming days, but we cannot say much for security reasons.”
There will also be discussions regarding what additional measures can be taken in consultation with the municipal authorities of Saint-Josse-ten-Node and Schaerbeek.
This week, the two communes introduced an alcohol ban on the streets in the vicinity of the station, applying between the hours of 20.00 and 08.00.
Meanwhile, a spokesperson for federal home affairs minister Annelies Verlinden told Bruzz that a meeting had been arranged between the mayors of the surrounding communes, the police zone and secretary of state for asylum and migration Sammy Mahdi.
Many of the men – they are largely men – hanging around the station are migrants, most of whom have nowhere else to go, who sleep in the lower level of the station at night.
And BNP Paribas is not the only company affected, Bruzz reports. Some have increased their home-work frequency so that evening workers are safe at home.
“The entrance to the station is about 50m from the exit of our building and this area is under video surveillance,” said Francis Adyns, spokesperson for the finance ministry.
“Our building itself is guarded 24 hours a day by a security service.”