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The Binche Carnival is famous far beyond the town itself. In 2003, UNESCO recognized the Gilles of Binche procession as an important part of world heritage. The Carnival lasts three days, but related events take place over the six weekends beforehand. At the height of the Carnival, upwards of 100,000 people visit the town center. “Binche is a festive town,” says Deputy Mayor Laurent Devin. “In the summer, there are a lot of musical events, followed by the September festivals.
But the Binche-Chimay-Binche cycle race attracts huge crowds, too, and we will be following the Red Devils’ football matches on the big screen.”
The police in the Anderlues–Binche zone make sure all these events run smoothly. Since 2013, the team of 120 officers has used surveillance cameras to help with this. Proximus installed eight fixed and six mobile cameras in the center of Binche. “Initially, we wanted extra support for the police during major events,” Deputy Mayor Devin explains. “With the cameras, the police can keep watch over the general public more easily.
Thanks to the cameras, the police have a better view of how the crowds are moving and they can see immediately where the pressure gets too much. They can quickly locate a suspicious person or incident and intervene if necessary.”
What’s more, the cameras can be used to take pictures. During events, the police can view the pictures straight away, for example to speed up the identification of suspects. “But of course, we use the cameras more widely, as well,” Laurent Devin adds. “The police can use them to follow the traffic in the town more easily, if there are roadworks, for instance. The cameras also make it possible to keep an eye on any parking problems in the town.” Stored images can provide evidence for investigations into infringements or offences.
The 14 cameras cover the center of Binche. The town widely publicized the positioning of the cameras. “The town council and the police do everything possible to guarantee the safety of residents and visitors,” says Deputy Mayor Devin. “This is the context in which we chose where to situate the cameras.” The first condition for a successful event is that it takes place in safety.
The cameras are one element in the approach to creating this safety. “People who come to the Carnival or other events know that we take pictures. So troublemakers stay away. Since we started using the cameras, the number of incidents during events has fallen substantially.”
The positive results from the camera surveillance may perhaps be expanded soon. The Deputy Mayor wants to install cameras in the main squares of the seven communes that have been merged with Binche. “Our intention is the same,” he says. “We want to give the village squares back to the residents. Cameras keep troublemakers out of the neighborhood.”
Binche is a town with a population of 33,000 in the province of Hainaut, between Mons and Charleroi. The town carnival is recognized as an important part of world heritage.
Laurent Devin has been Deputy Mayor of Binche since 2006. He has also been a member of the House of Representatives since 2010. He was the Walloon Deputy from 2004 to 2010.