Luxembourgh Times

Government to probe remit of capital's private security

City and national authorities have long clashed over who should maintain public order on the streets of Luxembourg City

Justice Minister Sam Tanson

Justice Minister Sam Tanson © Photo credit: Pierre Matgé

Deputy editor-in-chief  

Justice Minister Sam Tanson is to request files from private security firm G4S to assess if their activities in patrolling Luxembourg City remain within legal boundaries, after a reported attack in the Gare area added fuel to the already heated debate on security in the capital, the Justice Ministry has confirmed.

Tanson told a closed-door meeting of the parliamentary justice committee on Wednesday she would go through the documents to analyse whether private security agents are overstepping their authority, Pirate Party deputy Marc Goergen, who sits on the committee, told The Luxembourg Times.

City and national authorities have long clashed over who should maintain public order on the streets of the capital, with the government arguing only the police should have that authority despite Luxembourg City Mayor, Lydie Polfer, hiring a private security firm last year to patrol the streets.

A private force, currently G4S, was hired after protesters took to the streets of the Gare area, complaining that their requests for more prominent police patrols were not being taken seriously amid increasing crime and drug dealing in the neighbourhood.

On Saturday night, police were called to Avenue de la Gare where they found a man with a bite wound on his leg. A video capturing the incident appeared to show a private security firm’s dog hanging onto the man’s leg for at least 30 seconds while guards struggled to control the animal.

Tanson’s request for documents is not specifically linked to Saturday’s incident but is intended to look more broadly into the remit of private security agents operating in the capital, Goergen said.

The probe aims to determine if the legal provisions regarding private surveillance have been respected, G4S Managing Director Laurent Jossart, said in an email.

“It is a procedure (by the Justice Minister) which is nothing exceptional and which is standard in Luxembourg,” he wrote.

Private security firms are not legally authorised to patrol the streets and are generally restricted to monitoring buildings, according to a government press release. However, if it turns out the firm has overstepped legal boundaries, it will not be in Tanson’s power to end the contract, the Justice Ministry said. Such a decision will rest with Luxembourg City Council.

Central government should reinforce the police force and recruit more officers to enable them to patrol the streets, Goergen said.

“We want more police officers, not private companies, because the police are controlled by law,” he added.

On Monday, Kox - who oversees Luxembourg's police force - said the use of private security guards in the capital "does not meet rule of law standards". He is calling for a strategy to fight drug crime that involves local and national authorities, adding that the police alone cannot do it.