The train stations, which once symbolized the safe gateway to the world, are increasingly becoming a haven for all kinds of nuisance and crime. Whether it's robbers, pickpockets or sleeping bums, the lack of security is distressing. And the political players? They point to each other when it comes to responsibility. Insecurity and decay at train stations are a disturbing trend and a political ping-pong game.
Minister-president of the Brussels-Capital Region Rudi Vervoort (PS) stated that security is and will remain a federal issue. In a recent press release, Prime Minister Alexander De Croo and Minister of the Interior Annelies Verlinden stated that the Brussels-Capital Region would once again be given responsibility after the preparation of a quality of life and safety plan. But so far no action has been taken, while the problems continue to pile up.
The government outlines a multi-layered approach. The first axis focuses on tackling crime and illegality around the stations. The second axis relates to the situation of homeless people, addicts and general cleanliness in and around the station. Finally, the government wants to carry out infrastructure works around the stations to improve safety, with a particular focus on NMBS and Infrabel.
Remarkably, no additional federal funds have yet been allocated to support the plan. Philippe Close, mayor of Brussels-city, was pleased that action is finally being taken, but emphasized that attention must also be paid to public health.
Since SNCB CEO Sophie Dutordoir called for action last week, the situation seems to have become a political ping-pong game. The National Crisis Center is now tasked with coordinating cooperation between all services and political levels, but concrete steps have not been taken. It is time for the parties involved to join forces to find a long-term and effective solution to the deterioration and insecurity at our train stations.
The government is also calling for more extensive camera surveillance. Although this can contribute to a sense of security and may even have a preventive effect, it is not a conclusive solution. Cameras cannot intervene, but mainly serve as a means for subsequent investigation. The lack of federal resources can mean that implementing effective oversight becomes a lengthy process.
The problem of insecurity and decay at train stations is complex and layered. It requires a coordinated approach from both federal and local governments, as well as civil society organizations and the train companies themselves. Prime Minister De Croo stressed the importance of creating an “environment less susceptible to what we see today”, but it is clear that this will take more than words.