Belgium’s government on Friday announced an action plan to improve security in and around Brussels’ Gare du Midi, following a public outcry over increasing crime and drug abuse at the country’s largest international train station.
The government has asked the national crisis center to coordinate between the many levels of government and services that are involved in securing the station area, Prime Minister Alexander De Croo and Interior Minister Annelies Verlinden said.
The action plan is important “for the safety of travelers coming to Brussels, for the residents of neighborhoods around the station, and for the image we’re projecting of our capital and the capital of Europe,” De Croo said.
The ministers said they wanted to take steps to address the “sense of insecurity” at the station “in the very short term,” while federal and local police, the security department of railway operator SNCB, and the immigration services draw up longer-term measures to address crime and illegal activity in and near the station.
The plan will also include measures to address homelessness, addiction and health problems in the area with the help of the country’s drug commissioner; and infrastructure changes and increased camera surveillance to improve safety.
Brussels’ regional government had called for help from the federal government after SNCB CEO Sophie Dutordoir sounded the alarm about the “dramatic” situation at the station last week.
The neighborhood has been grappling with “nuisance, theft, drug use, illegality, and a cleanliness and quality of life that leaves much to be desired,” and the sense of insecurity among travelers and residents is now “alarming,” according to the ministers’ announcement.