The new law governing the transport police of 27 April 2018 came into force as from the 1st November 2018.

The law of 27 April 2018 identifies a series of behaviours as criminal offences. These are unlawful behaviours committed in trains, stations and more generally on railway premises.

This legislation (which replaces the previous law governing the transport police) now makes it possible to prosecute a range of offences by means of an administrative procedure, which may result in an administrative fine. While observing rights of defence, it will make it possible to prosecute these offences a lot more quickly and effectively to combat impunity and to relieve a judicial system, which is already greatly stretched.

This new system is inspired by joint legislation governing administrative sanctions, as well as regional public transport company legislation: STIB, De Lijn, TEC.

A distinction can be made between offences targeted by this legislation by subject or by possible prosecutions.

Distinguishing by subject:

1) Offences relating to travel tickets

2) Offences relating to anti-social behaviour committed on railway premises

3) Offences impacting on railway safety

Distinguishing by type of prosecution:

1) "Criminal" type: in principle, all the offences targeted by this legislation are punishable by criminal prosecution. However, for more effective management, the legislator has widely waived this principle in favour of prosecutions specific to each type of offence (decriminalised / mixed type).

2) "Decriminalised" type: about half of all offences targeted by this legislation have very simply been "decriminalised". In other words, rather than pursuing a criminal prosecution, the legislator has deemed it more effective to govern them by means of an administrative procedure (which may result in an administrative fine).

For example:

  • offences relating to transport tickets (exception: if this offence is committed for the 10th time within the space of a year, the case will be subject to a criminal prosecution),
  • "minor" acts of anti-social behaviour (riding a bicycle on railway premises, smoking on the train, etc.).

3) "Mixed" type: the other half of offences targeted by this legislation is qualified as being "mixed" in nature. This means that these offences are deemed to be serious and potentially requiring criminal prosecutions. To this end, for a period provided for by law, it shall be the competent court, which will be at liberty to prosecute or not to prosecute the offence before the criminal judge. If this is the case, the penalties are those provided for by criminal law. If, in contrast, the judge does not make a finding or communicates to SNCB that it deems that an administrative procedure is more appropriate, then the case will be governed as part of an administrative procedure, as though it were a "decriminalised" offence.

For example:

  • "serious" acts of anti-social behaviour (graffiti, violent behaviour, etc.)
  • breaches of security (abusively pulling the alarm signal, forcing open the doors of the train, etc.)

Depending on the type of offence committed (see "What are the different types of offences being targeted"), prosecutions are either criminal or administrative.

Always depending on the type of offence committed, if it is an offence relating to transport tickets, initially there is the option to deal with the offence as part of an out-of-court procedure set out in detail in the appendix of general transport conditions. 

If the case is being punished through a criminal prosecution, the person in question is liable for a custodial sentence of between eight days and five years and/or a criminal fine of at least 26 euros (increased by additional supplements – or currently multiplied by 8).

If the offence is being prosecuted as part of an administrative procedure, the person in question is liable for an administrative fine the amount of which may vary depending on the category of offence and depending of whether it's a first or repeat offence:

  • Category 1 - for example: smoking or riding a bike in a station
1st offence 2nd offence 3rd and following offences (within a year)
50 € 75 € 150 €
  • Category 2 - for example: graffiti or boarding the train while the doors are closing
1st offence 2nd offence 3rd and following offences (within a year)
100 € 250 € 350 €
  • Category 3 - offences involving transport tickets
1st offence 2nd and subsequent offences (within a year)
250 € 500 €
  • Category 4 - for example, exhibiting violent behaviour or disrupting rail traffic
1st offence 2nd and subsequent offences (within a year)
300 € 500 €

Exception: if the administrative fine is issued to a minor, who at the time of the offence was aged between 14 and 18, the administrative fine cannot be greater than 175 euros.

The administrative procedure starts with a letter being sent by registered mail notifying the person concerned that he/she has committed a breach of the law governing transport police and that he/she risks receiving an administrative fine. He/she will also receive the copy of the statement or report of the offence and is invited to respond by confirming his/her means of defence within a period of 30 days.

If the person concerned was between the age of 14 and 18 at the time of the offence or if he/she is an adult and has committed an offence punishable with a category-4 fine (see "What are the potential prosecutions and how much are the fines through the administrative procedure?"), he/she may otherwise request to be heard in court.

Having noted the means of defence of the person concerned or, where applicable, having heard him/her before a court, the sanctioning officer may only decide to impose or not to impose the administrative fine provided for by law. The value of the fines may not be varied.

The decision of the sanctioning officer is communicated to the person concerned by registered mail.

Yes.

Any person who has an administrative fine imposed on them may lodge an appeal within a period of one month following notification of the decision.

This appeal may be lodged by application to the competent police court (for adults) or to the competent juvenile court (for minors).

Once the appeal deadline has passed (see "Is there an option to appeal against a decision to impose an administrative fine?"), the decision imposing the administrative fine becomes enforceable. In other words, it may be sent to a bailiff to enforce recovery of the debt.

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