Some 8,400 cases of attacks against police officers were recorded last year, amongst which 800 were assaults. This was reported on Monday in Het Laatste Nieuws and De Morgen. Starting from this week a circular from the Minister of Justice, Koen Geens (CD&V), instigating a zero-tolerence policy will be sent to all of Belgium’s prosecutors.
The minister had in fact announced this circular back in June, following the riots which hit the city of Antwerp. An investigation will now be launched in each case of an attack, whilst verbal attack cases are not to be automatically dropped in all instances. The document stipulates, “Serious matters will be subject to immediate appearance in court or referral to the court.”
Five reference judges will be allocated specifically for the purpose of applying these directives at the level of the General Prosecutor’s Office. The minister also wishes for the follow-up to such complaints to be recorded.
Vincent Houssin from the civil servant trade union, SLFP, explained, “Litigation rates are currently at 40%. In addition, one in two police officers who are victims of violence do not raise it with their superiors.” He went on, “If facts leading to work incapacity are dropped but the victims are compensated, this will be a step forward.”