The law of 27 July 2022 relating to municipal administrative fines and the extension of the competencies of municipal agents aims to empower municipal agents to report infringements as set by the general police regulations of the municipality, sanctioned by either administrative or criminal fines as well as to offer a neighbourhood service favouring social cohesion in the municipalities.
Thus, the provisions of the law allow:
- to enhance the role of the municipal agent;
- to relieve the police;
- to relieve the justice system;
- to define in a precise manner the proximity missions of municipal agents;
- to establish a list of minor infringements sanctioned by administrative fines of 25 to 250€;
- to introduce a procedure for administrative fines, while preserving the rights of defence.
An administrative fine is “a unilateral administrative act with punitive content”. Municipalities will be able to incorporate the incivilities listed below into their general police regulations. An infringement leads to the payment of a tax of 25 euros, or else the sanctioning official will issue higher fines of 25 to 250 euros.
Administrative fines do not apply to minors.
The list of acts sanctioned by administrative fines includes the following 17 offenses:
- occupying the public highway in order to exercise a profession or an industrial, commercial, artisanal or artistic activity without authorisation;
- using lawnmowers, saws and any other noisy equipment outside the times authorised by the municipality;
- throwing or exploding devices that produce smoke, fumes or explosives, stinking or tear-producing gas in the streets, lanes and public places;
- loading and unloading goods without authorisation from the mayor or outside of scheduled hours;
- using radios or other electronic devices in public places that exceed ambient noise levels, without authorisation from the mayor;
- disrupting the operation of public street lighting and floodlights;
- lighting a fire on public streets without the mayor’s authorisation;
- handling pipes, conduits, cables and public facilities;
- damaging ornamental plantations installed by municipalities on public streets;
- for dog owners, not to remove the excrements from their dog on the public streets;
- bringing dogs to playgrounds, schools or other public spaces not permitted for dogs;
- carrying out work on any kind of construction sites outside of authorised hours;
- for establishments in the HORECA sector, installing café or restaurant terraces beyond the authorised perimeter;
- occupying public playgrounds outside the scheduled opening hours;
- placing garbage cans or bags intended for public collection on the public streets before the designated time;
- for construction and transport companies, blocking public streets in the vicinity of construction sites and loading and unloading areas;
- descending to the ice of canals, basins, ponds and waterways, unless authorized by the mayor.
Finally, municipal agents will be habilitated to control and sanction the phenomena of littering, the abandonment of trash in public spaces or in nature.
How does the system of administrative fines work?
Schematically, the system of administrative fines can be summarised as follows:
Once the municipal agent has noticed an infringement, the person is asked to pay a tax of 25€ within 15 days in order to avoid the administrative procedure that may lead to a potentially higher fine and administrative fee. If the concerned person does not pay the tax, the sanctioning official of the Ministry of Home Affairs will be asked to review the file. The latter will then decide whether a fine is imposed and will fix the amount based on the general police regulations of the concerned municipality. The sanctioned person may appeal to the administrative court in order to dispute the administrative fine.
The reinforced presence of municipal agents on the public streets can be a source of comfort in face of growing feelings of insecurity among the population. At the same time, the law clearly defines the proximity missions of municipal agents, which has not been the case until now:
- raising public safety awareness for public safety, prevention of incivilities and some regulations applicable to the public space;
- informing and reporting security, environmental and road problems to the corresponding departments;
- assistance in crossing the road, e.g. near schools;
- monitoring of people or property in the municipality during community events;
- assisting victims of distress, accidents etc. by performing first aid while waiting for the emergency services to arrive.
Valorisation of the role of municipal agents
Municipal agents will have to undergo special professional training in order to fulfil the new tasks assigned to them by the law. This training will cover, for example, the investigation and detection of offences or criminal law provisions.
In order to fulfil the tasks of the neighbourhood service, municipal agents will have to attend courses on crime prevention, public awareness, road safety and first aid.
In the exercise of their duties, the municipal agents wear the uniform and insignia that their municipality has determined. They act under the authority of the mayor and collaborate with the Police and the CGDIS.