Ethnic profiling and violence: 75% of Brussels youth fear police
Share article:
Share article:

Ethnic profiling and violence: 75% of Brussels youth fear police

Young people confront police in Brussels during La Boum 2 on 1 May 2021. Credit: Belga

Around three-quarters of young people in Brussels don’t feel safe when in contact with police, while a majority thinks that police checks and searches often involve ethnic profiling.

When it comes to how the police make them feel, around half of respondents said they felt anger and fear. Just 12% of the respondents feel respect for the police, according to the survey by the Youth Council of the Flemish Community Commission (VGC), which aimed to give young people a voice when it comes to their relationship with the institution for law and order.

“These figures hit all parties hard,” said Ilyas Mouani, chairman of the VGC Youth Council, adding that the report also highlighted the fact that young people’s knowledge of their rights and obligations is “far from adequate.”

Just short of seven in ten respondents said they were not correctly informed about what their rights and obligations are when they come into contact with the police, and those who felt they were well informed indicated that they were taught about it by family and friends (56%), the internet (56%), or at school (35%).

Strikingly, just 11% of respondents were informed about their rights about the police, while around 30% of those who were not informed would like the police to give them more information about what their rights are.

Related News

 

In general, female respondents felt safer with the police than male respondents, in part explained by the fact that male respondents were significantly more likely to be checked or arrested than young women.

When approached by the police, young men are around seven times more likely to experience verbal and physical violence than young women as just 3% of female respondents indicated they had experienced such aggression, compared to 22% of male respondents.

Meanwhile, 68% think that there was ethnic profiling involved when police carried out checks, searches and arrested young people. This sentiment was stronger among male respondents (71%) than among their female peers (63%).

Young people want change

Between 19 February and 7 March this year, the survey questioned 1,968 young people in Brussels, which the VGC Youth Council said was “not enough to be representative, but enough to serve as an impression of how the youth relates to the region’s police force.”

Mouani argued that the large number of young people who responded in such a short timeframe “shows how sincere this subject is for the young people and that they really want to see change”. This was also mirrored in the report, which indicated that more than nine in ten respondents believe that the relationship between young people and the police should improve.

On a regional level, Brussels State Secretary Pascal Smet is freeing up €100,000 to fund a pilot project that aims to improve the relationship between citizens and the police on a local level, while the Federal Government set up a working group that will optimise the procedure police officers follow when dealing with children and young people during interventions.

“By understanding each other’s needs and adapting the approach and procedures of the police to young people, we restore trust in each other,” Home Affairs Minister Annelies Verlinden said.

Latest news

New offshore wind farm officially opened
Despite being operational since the end of 2020, the SeaMade offshore wind farm was officially inaugurated on Wednesday by Prime Minister Alexander ...
Contact tracers have no time for calls, only texts, amid rising cases
Contract tracers will no longer make phone calls to the high-risk contacts of people who test positive for the coronavirus beginning from Wednesday, ...
Belgium holds on to top spot in FIFA rankings despite recent losses
Once again, Belgium's Red Devils have held onto their position at the top of the world football rankings, according to an update released by the ...
Why the fight for transgender rights is polarising Europe 
Year after year, Samuel De Schepper would ask Santa Claus to bring him a penis for Christmas. Born female and attending an all girl’s Catholic ...
Proximus pushes for high-speed internet in Brussels and Wallonia
Fifteen municipalities in Wallonia should soon have access to high-speed internet through the rollout of fibre optics in the region, telecoms giant ...
World’s largest chocolate warehouse opens in Flanders
On Thursday, Barry Callebaut – the largest global chocolate processor and manufacturer – opened the world's largest chocolate warehouse in Lokeren, ...
Belgium in Brief: Equal Opportunity To Dance
There's a phrase where I'm from, more often said in jest nowadays, but it came to my mind this morning: "Ye dancin'?" (Are you dancing?), one ...
Farmer discovers cocaine in banana boxes bought in Brussels
A Flemish farmer who purchased boxes of bananas at the market in Brussels on Tuesday came home to discover large amounts of cocaine packed among the ...
Changes to speed cameras increase likelihood of a ticket
Changes to the way speed cameras work in Flanders and Wallonia will increase the likelihood of receiving a ticket when cars pass them above the ...
Why Belgium is regulating sex work
After decades of confusing rules and hypocritical policy, Belgium is finally regulating sex work by removing prostitution from the criminal law. ...
Nightlife testing centre opens in central Brussels on Friday
A new coronavirus testing centre set up by the Brussels By Night Federation will open on Place Poelaert in Brussels on Friday, aiming to administer ...
Covid Safe Ticket targeted by legal action
It is less than a week that the Covid Safe Ticket (CST) has been required to participate in many social activities such as entering bars or ...