Differdange is requesting a “substantial increase” in police presence over public safety concerns Library photo: Sebastien Goossens |SG9

Differdange is requesting a “substantial increase” in police presence over public safety concerns Library photo: Sebastien Goossens |SG9

The city of Differdange on Wednesday pressed the government to provide more police officers over safety concerns around a local park.

At the end of January, a team of police officers was surrounded by a group of 10 to 15 people who had been using drugs outside a bar in Rue Michel Rodange. A scuffle broke out and reinforcements had to be called in, prompting a discussion about safety at the city’s Parc Gerlache and the surrounding area.

The municipal council on 2 March adopted a resolution demanding a “significant increase” of police in Differdange as well as a mobile unit to patrol the area. The city had previously been assigned four additional officers.

The request will place more pressure on interior security minister Henri Kox (Déi Gréng) who has also faced requests for more police presence around Esch-sur-Alzette and Luxembourg City’s train station. Authorities in the capital had resorted to hiring a private security firm to help ensure safety in the district.

A contract with a private firm was not renewed at the end of last year, however, after a guard dog had bitten and injured a person during an altercation on 4 September.

Differdange already in 2019 had resorted to outside help to monitor Park Gerlache and the surrounding streets, but mayor Christiane Brassel-Rausch (Déi Gréng) in an in February had said introducing such a measure again was “out of the question”.

Instead, the city wants to spend money on installing CCTV cameras in the area. It did not specify a budget in the resolution passed on Wednesday but the mayor previously said this could cost around €200,000.

Until 1 June, the city won’t be granting any late night licences to bars located around Rue Michel Rodange, the so-called “nuit blanche”. And it said owners of bar spaces should take more care of the tenants they rent premises to.

The bar where the altercation with police in January took place, Café Eclat Sportiv, was frequently the site of disturbances. It has been closed down as a result.

Differdange will also be investing in infrastructure to redirect traffic around the park, reducing noise pollution for residents, as well as improving street lighting in some adjacent streets.

“There aren’t only dealers,” Brassel-Rausch said in February, adding that there are many young people at the park who shouldn’t be criminalised. “As a commune, we have to ask ourselves whether we have done enough,” the mayor said. “Why are these young people there? Why aren’t they working or at school?”

The city voted to increase the number of street social workers, launch dialogues with residents and businesses, establish an outdoor space together with youth groups and set up programmes to help young people find work.