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New Rule: Banning Misconduct at Blaarmeersen Beach in Ghent

In theory it’s simple: anyone who goes too far is no longer welcome on Blaarmeersen beach. From this summer, the Ghent police can therefore give someone a paper on the site with a one-month ‘entry ban’. There is no such rule yet.

Anyone who was kicked out of the Blaarmeersen last summer for misconduct could come back in a day later. In extreme cases, the mayor could issue a ‘restraining order’ to someone, but that takes several days and requires some paperwork.

This is why the Ghent city council believes that the police should be able to immediately expel someone for a month. At least, that’s the theory. In practice it turns out to be a little simpler.

Harassing girls

The main question is: where is the limit for banning someone from the Blaarmeersen for a month? It is up to the Ghent police to assess this, according to the city council. It was agreed that these must relate to “serious incidents” such as stalking, theft or sexual harassment.

That seems logical. But taking ice cream without paying is also theft. Should that mean a teenager should be banned for a month? No. And what if a boy harasses girls? Or insulting a rescuer? The new rules only state that ‘aggressive and discriminatory behaviour’ can result in a one-month entry ban.

READ IN. Anyone with serious misconduct will be banned from the Blaarmeersen for a month: “We have to be able to draw a red card”

You may be banned from entering for this

  • Physically inappropriate behavior or sexual harassment
  • Aggressive and discriminatory behavior
  • Dealing with drugs or causing serious disturbances as a result of drug use
  • Deliberate destruction of infrastructure
  • Aggravated theft or robbery with violence

“It is a difficult debate,” acknowledged Filip Rasschaert, Ghent police chief, at a meeting in the city hall last week. “We don’t have an answer to that at all. We have to try and fine-tune that.” Broad lines were agreed together with the public prosecutor’s office: the more aggressive, the greater the chance of access restrictions.


Not good, according to Ghent’s youth council. In a formal advice to the city council, the youth say that the new rule is “a step too far”. According to them, the lack of clarity leaves the door open for abuse. Besides, the Blaarmeersen already have enough rules, they say.

“You have to register online in advance, pay to get in, check an ID card… Many young people no longer experience Blaarmeersen as a place where they are welcome . Associations go to the sea because, as a group of young people, they are afraid that the Blaarmeersen will be questioned.”

“Many young people no longer experience the Blaarmeersen as a place where they are welcome”

Ghent youth council

Such advice is largely symbolic. And it didn’t have much effect on the city council, as is evident from the response received by the young people. A discussion is promised and it is emphasized that anyone who receives such a ban on access from the police can defend themselves personally before the city council.

A conversation

“It will be too tight for some, not for others,” said Sofie Bracke (Open VLD) at the town hall meeting last week. As alderman, Bracke is responsible for the Blaarmeersen.

She said: “Are two 13-year-olds who smoke their first joint not allowed to use again for a month? No. Air managers or lifeguards should talk to them about this. But the police can stop someone who sells drugs.”

That too came under immediate criticism. “What kind of sign is that? A partnership is a drug, right? ” said N-VA faction leader Anneleen Van Bossuyt. “Ecstasy, is that allowed too? There should be the message that there is no place for this on the Blaarmeersen, along with a ban on access. “

The city council must vote on the new rule on Monday night. If approved, it will take effect in May. Weather permitting, the Blaarmeersen swimming area will open on May 1st.

2024-04-22 04:00:00

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