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City's private security agents overstepping authority, minister says
Private security

City's private security agents overstepping authority, minister says

by John MONAGHAN 2 min. 20.05.2021 From our online archive
Agents went beyond their remit by ordering people to move on, Justice Minister Sam Tanson says
Private security agents have been operating in the Gare district of Luxembourg City since December
Private security agents have been operating in the Gare district of Luxembourg City since December
Photo credit: Chris Karaba

Private security agents patrolling parts of Luxembourg City have sometimes overstepped their authority, Justice Minister Sam Tanson said amid a dispute between city and national authorities over public safety.

There have been reports that the hired security teams have ordered people to move from private and public places, Tanson said in a written response on Wednesday to a parliamentary question.

“Reports indicate that security agents carried out activities on the ground which have not been covered by the agreement”, Tanson said in reply to a question by Deputy Marc Goergen of the Pirate Party. 

Tanson offered no specific details about the incidents or the limit of the private agents' authority.

The stated aim of the private force is to provide a visible security presence in response to long-standing complaints about drug-trafficking and prostitution around the capital city's main train station. Luxembourg City Mayor Lydie Polfer first hired the private security firm in December on the understanding that their powers are limited.

The company, GDL Security, was hired to support the police "without encroaching on the latter's area of competence or replacing the activities of the public forces", the city council said last year.

GDL Security on Thursday declined to respond to Tanson's statement. 

Vowing that “public safety must not be privatised”, Tanson said that the company was warned that further conduct could lead to “revocation of the agreement”. 

Her comments echoed those of Luxembourg's Internal Security Minister Henri Kox, who is in charge of the national police force and has clashed repeatedly with Polfer over the issue.

Public support for private security

"Nothing justifies the privatisation" of security services to maintain public order, Kox has said.

Polfer said last month she again asked Kox for more police officers in the capital's public places and more closed-circuit cameras.

Legislation presented last month to the national parliament proposes easing the duties of police officers by extending powers to city council employees to hand out fines for minor violations such as dumping litter or playing loud music.

Four-fifths of those polled in the city's Gare district said they wanted more action to improve security, a survey published by Luxembourg City Council in February found. More than two-thirds said that the presence of private security agents made them feel safer. 

City authorities recently signed a new contract with security firm G4S, which took effect from mid-May and will cover the Bonnevoie and Haute-Ville areas of the city in addition to the Gare district.  

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