Number of inmates in Belgium reaches record high

As of Monday, there are 12,012 inmates in Belgian prisons, the highest number ever, Het Nieuwsblad reports on Tuesday. Trade unionist Eddy De Smedt calls the situation "downright distressing".

There are currently 10,700 official places for detainees, according to the Belgian Prison Service, including the two established detention and transition houses. That means Belgian prisons are severely overcrowded.

"A cell of three metres by three metres, with three people, one of whom has to lie on a mattress on the floor," explained De Smedt. "Of course something like that leads to escalations and aggression."

The Prison Service acknowledges the difficult situation. "We confirm the fact that there are 12,012 detainees locked up in Belgian prisons today," said spokesperson Kathleen Van De Vijver. "On 1 February, we will consult the unions again to discuss this issue."

The unions had already announced a series of strikes in several Flemish prisons for next week.



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