Whereas Jan Jambon (N-VA), Home secretary, alleges that the 30% decline in crime rates in Brussels and Antwerp is due to the presence of soldiers on the streets, the SLPF-Police (free union of civil servants-police force) calls this statement a “biased political declaration unsupported by facts.” The union reckons more time is needed to understand crime statistics. “A healthy scientific reaction forces the various organisations monitoring police activity to wait 2 years before interpreting figures,” they say. “And even if in some areas such as Brussels-Ixelles or Antwerp, figures showed a decline, the minister is basing his conclusions on incomplete results,” they add.
Furthermore, should this decline be confirmed, the SLFP-Police refuses to believe that the mere presence of soldiers on the streets can explain it. “It is reasonable to doubt that a few soldiers supporting police forces in Brussels can explain a decrease in the number of burglaries, thefts or fly-tipping,” say Vincent Gilles and Vincent Houssin, president and vice-president of SLPF-Police.
Brussels alderman Yvan Mayeur (PS) also believes the presence of soldiers did not affect crime rates, adding that he has not seen the figures for 2015 and that crime rates were already down in 2014.
For SLPF-Police, the statement by the Home secretary “only aims to maintain a military presence in certain specific spots, and has nothing to do with the safety of the general population.”
A government source confirmed on Thursday, that on Friday the cabinet will decide to extend the army surveillance mission in certain strategic sites in Brussels and Antwerp until mid-May. There has been a military presence on the streets since January 17th, following the anti-terrorist action in Verviers. Originally their involvement was due to a perceived level 3 threat. Rules regulating their mission were modified to keep them in place at certain strategic points still considered a level 3 in spite of the general level 2 threat.