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    75% of Belgians feel safe, says police survey

    © Belga

    Most Belgians feel safe, especially in their neighbourhoods, much safer than police crime statistics might suggest, according to an extensive survey by the federal police on citizens’ perceptions of their safety, their readiness to file complaints and their assessment of the services of the police.

    Some 75% of Belgians said they always, or almost always, felt safe in their neighbourhoods. In fact, the things that seemed to worry Belgians most were excessive speeding by drivers and clandestine garbage dumps.

    The Security Monitor survey, conducted among 168,206 respondents from March to May 2018, was the first such study by the federal police in 10 years.

    When compared to crime statistics for 2018 compiled by the police, its results, published on Wednesday, give an idea of the impact of crime on the Belgian society.

    A major finding of the Security Monitor survey is that Belgians tend to underestimate computer-based crime in particular.

    According to the official data for 2018, acts of cybercrime registered by the police increased by 14.8% in one year. Phishing (stealing of users’ data by using false Internet sites) seemed to be increasing at a particularly fast rate: 1,277 such cases were registered in 2018, up from 475 the year before.

    On the other hand, the Security Monitor shows, only 14% of victims of data theft via computer or smart phone in 2018 actually reported these crimes to the police. For victims of online scams, intimidation or harassment, the proportion was barely higher, 22%.

    “In other words, some 200,000 infractions committed via the Internet were not reported,” the federal police noted.

    Some 75% of Belgians said they always, or almost always, felt safe in their neighbourhoods. In fact, the things that seemed to worry Belgians most were excessive speeding by drivers and clandestine garbage dumps.

    The number of offenses registered by the police last year was roughly the same as in 2017, with theft and extortion generating the most complaints.

    Oscar Schneider

    The Brussels Times