Coronavirus: crime drops by 30% in Belgium

Coronavirus: crime drops by 30% in Belgium
© Belga

Authorities have seen around a 30% drop in crime due to the far-reaching measures taken by the government in the fight against the new coronavirus (Covid-19), according to a survey reported by Belgian newspaper De Tijd on Tuesday.

"There are notably fewer crimes," said Nicholas Paelinck, chairman of the Standing Committee of the local police, which encompasses all of the country's police corps. "We don't have precise numbers yet, but it would be around a 30% drop. There are fewer accidents on the road because there are fewer people driving, and there are fewer fights. But we see that crime is dropping across the board."

The survey by De Tijd confirms this decrease by virtue of the rules imposed in the context of the coronavirus pandemic, and it doesn't seem like there's a shift to new criminal activities such as burglaries or looting, which could happen due to all of the offices, stores and construction sites that are now unoccupied or closed.

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Paelinck points out that the drop in crime will allow police to reallocate their resources and more heavily enforce the lockdown measures, as many people are still not following the rules. For example, police had a busy weekend as many ignored social distancing and the Brussels commune of Forest saw the need to forbid access to the grass in its parks. Paelinck said that too many people still leave their homes for non-essential reasons, and that there are groups of youngsters "who don't understand that it's five to midnight."

The current lockdown measures are in place until at least 5 April but virologists Marc Van Ranst and Steven Van Gucht have said that it was likely these measures would continue beyond that date in some form.

Jason Spinks

The Brussels Times

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