Already in June, the main opposition party said the government should be tougher on crime, after the police’s 2020 annual report showed the number of criminal offences breaching 40,000 for the first time.
“Of course Luxembourg is not Marseille, there are no lawless areas, and not all areas of the city are concerned by these security problems, but there are 'hotspots', notably in the Gare area, and we must not ignore them. If nothing is done about these small areas, they will spread to other neighbourhoods and there is always the risk that a lawless area will develop,” said Laurent Mosar (CSV), member of parliament and alderman for the city.
"We must always try to find solutions when the problems have not yet grown too big. The problems at the railway station are already serious, but we can still do something to rectify the situation, even if we have to do it quickly," he said.
The press conference aimed to present the measures that the CSV would like to see implemented in order to "fight against these problems of insecurity. We have been discussing these issues for years. There were already public meetings in 2018 when Etienne Schneider (LSAP) was minister of interior security, and again in 2019 with François Bausch (Déi Gréng). They promised the residents everything, and nothing, or almost nothing, was done. It's dramatic that the government has not taken any consistent action, apart from the slight increase in police numbers, but the proposals we made have not been heard or realised."
Bodycams and tasers
While the presence of the security company G4S has been a subject of debate since the incident that occurred on the evening of 4 September near the central train station, Mosar confirmed the the CSV’s support--a coalition partner with the DP in Luxembourg City’s local leadership--for mayor Lydie Polfer (DP).
“We had the choice between doing nothing and hiring these private agents. And for us, doing nothing was not an option. But if the government accedes to our demands, perhaps the contract will not be renewed with this company. We would prefer to commit the city's funds to social missions, but we have no choice at the moment,” Mosar said.
Among the eight measures requested by the CSV are systematic police patrols on foot, video surveillance, the legal measure known as "Platzverweis”--the ability to tell a person or a group of people who disturb public order to move on. "We are also asking for police officers to be equipped with bodycams and tasers," added Mosar.
The head of police union SNPGL, Pascal Ricquier, during an interview with RTL this week called for much of the same measures, including more CCTV and bodycams.
A "package of measures" expected in October
The MP and alderman also confirmed that “on the issue of security, the city's DP obviously does not agree with the government's DP, but we agree with the analysis of mayor Lydie Polfer. We have been saying for months that the situation at the station is catastrophic. There is no time to lose. People are very impatient and are waiting for measures, so the government must act,” Mosar said.
And the CSV announced that a public meeting will be organised soon with the inhabitants of the station area to "hear their feelings."
The number of police officers in the Gare district was increased by around 20 units in 2020, for a total of around 70 to 75 officers. The minister of internal security, Henri Kox (Déi Gréng) in January said a first recruitment drive to increase police force number had been successful.
In response to criticism from all sides, a package of measures concerning security is currently being prepared. It should be delivered to the government council in October.
This story was first published in French on Paperjam. It has been translated and edited for Delano.