All six of Brussels’ police zones are now either using bodycams or have plans to do so, with zone South due to decide tomorrow, according to Bruzz.
Bodycams, cameras worn by police officers to record interventions as evidence, are seen as a useful protection for officers against complaints, but the law on the matter is not clear. The home affairs minister in the last government, Pieter De Crem (CD&V), ordered the setting up of a working group as well as a university study.
In the meantime some police zones are going ahead unilaterally. The zone Brussels City-Ixelles decided to order bodycams earlier this year, and the first shipment of 230 will arrive in January, a spokesperson said. More will follow later in the year.
At present, only two zones are using bodycams in the field: zone West (Jette, Ganshoren, Koekelberg, Berchem-Sainte-Agathe and Molenbeek) and Marlow (Uccle, Watermael-Boisfort and Auderghem). Each zone has 30-40 cameras in use.
“They have a calming effect on the two sides,” said Philip Vanhees, director of interventions in zone Marlow. “An image is a thousand times more expressive than words. If the police make images of their own, the balance is restored.”
Earlier in the year, zone South (Anderlecht, Saint-Gilles and Forest) said they had no budget for bodycams, but since then the discussion has moved on. At the meeting of the police council on Monday, the question of setting up a test phase is on the agenda.
Also on Monday, a test phase will begin in zone North (Schaerbeek, Evere and Saint-Josse) using cameras that have already been bought.
Finally zone Montgomery (Etterbeek, Woluwe-Saint-Pierre and Woluwe-Saint-Lambert) progress on the issue is being made, a spokesperson said.
“We don’t have a specific date yet, but the matter has already been discussed with the police council and the unions. The aim is to carry out a number of test phases with bodycams, in different departments, starting next year.”