Let police patrol crime spots on foot, opposition says
By Douwe Miedema and Yannick Lambert
Luxembourg's largest opposition party launched a plan to put more police officers on the streets in visible foot patrols, wading into a conflict about security near the central train station and other crime hotspots in the country.
The Christian-Democrat CSV also called for video surveillance in the worst areas and to equip forces with body cams and tasers. Reflecting demands by a police union, they also suggested giving police the authority to dismiss people from certain locations and relieve them of transports of low-risk prisoners.
"We back the police a hundred percent ... and they have bloody difficult job here, with staff numbers that are manifestly not sufficient," Laurent Mosar, a parliamentarian for the CSV, said at a press conference on Thursday.
A political row erupted last year over security in the capital's Gare area - long a centre for the illegal drug trade and prostitution - after city mayor Lydie Polfer hired a private security firm to patrol the streets, putting her at odds with interior security minister Henri Kox, who is in charge of the police.
The spat reached a climax when a guard dog belonging to one of the private security firms shook off its muzzle and bit a member of the public. The man was later taken into custody after being abusive with hospital staff.
"If the police was doing their job, we would not need the security firm. I would much rather have the police instead of the security firm do this work," said Mosar, who is also an alderman for the city of Luxembourg.
The security firm, G4S, started its job after protesters in the Gare took to the streets, complaining they were not being taken seriously amid what they said were increases in crime and drug dealing in the neighbourhood.
Mosar said he is seeking a discussion with Kox, and that the city could reconsider the use of the private security firms if Kox could sufficiently improve the police's work and if residents agree. "There is no discrepancy between the use of private security and this legislative proposal," he said.
The CSV also submitted a draft bill to parliament to overhaul youth protection legislation so that minors under the age of 16 can be arrested and prosecuted depending on the severity of the offence. At the moment, this is only the case in some circumstances for minors above the age of 16.
Kox lacks a clear concept of how to improve the situation, the president of the national police union SNPGL Pascal Ricquier said on Thursday, and the police does not have the resources to do the work that is needed. He also listed some of the same demands that the CSV presented in its proposal.
More than 62% of all violent thefts between March and June this year in the country happened in the capital, figures showed this week.
Justice Minister Sam Tanson is to request files from private security firm G4S to assess if their activities in patrolling Luxembourg City are legal.