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Record number of complaints filed against police in 2018

Police in Brussels. Credit: ©BELGA/BAS BOGAERTS

Belgian citizens filed a record number of complaints against police in 2018, out of which more than half were dismissed, the yearly report of the police oversight body Committee P shows.

A total of 2,965 complaints were filed last year, an increase of just over 8% in comparison to 2017, when 2,733 complaints were filed before the Standing Police Monitoring Committee (Committee P), an independent body overseeing policing operations.

“Since 2015, the number of complaints filed before the committee has been steadily on the rise,” the committee wrote in the report, where the earliest available figures date back to 2010 when 2,452 complaints were filed.

Last year, the committee dismissed 69.5% of all complaints filed, after concluding that police had not wrongfully acted, with an additional 10.8% of complaints dismissed because of a lack of sufficient evidence.

By contrast, in 11.5% of cases, the committee found that the police had wrongfully acted, while only 5.6% of complaints filed last year were brought before judiciary authorities.

Citizens last year filed complaints for reasons ranging from police not showing up to (7.4% of cases) or not taking action (11.7%) to their use of aggressive, threatening or intimidating (9.1%) or disrespectful (8.3%) language.

The highest number of complaints were filed by citizens who found police had carried out their duties “incorrectly, imprecisely, carelessly or in a non-relevant way” (14.5%) or who found that police were acted in a way that was “biased or unequal” (12.9%).

A total of 6.6% of the complaints were reports physical violence (“blows and injuries”) and an additional 7.2% were reports about police acting in a “menacing, aggressive or intimidating” way.

The report stressed that the complaints gathered in the report represented the facts from the perspective of the citizens and that a single complaint could be made for multiple facts or acts of police.

The number of complaints filed since 2010 has remained relatively stable, lingering around the 2,600 mark, with a peak in 2013 (2,885), nearing the number of complaints filed last year.

Gabriela Galindo
The Brussels Times

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