A shortage of police in Belgium means that new criminal investigations will have to be put on hold as the country faces the new coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak.
Ongoing investigations, however, will be carried out as normal, clarified Philippe Van Linthout, co-chair of the association of investigative judges, to La Dernière Heure on Thursday.
Nevertheless, “we see that police capacity is reduced. Some investigators are sick, others are working from home. Energy-intensive duties, such as wiretapping, which require resources, we have to give up some of them. It’s a pity but we have to reckon with the situation. The police can’t be everywhere,” he said.
The lack of new investigations does not mean the number of crimes has decreased. In fact, more drug couriers are being arrested, according to Van Linthout. Additionally, “citizens have the impression that there are no more burglaries since everyone is confined to their homes. But there are always break-ins, my colleagues will tell you,” he said.
Van Linthout has noticed from multiple police zones that “people simply no longer want to question suspects who are or appear to be ill.” He laments the lack of protective material during the coronavirus crisis. “We don’t need such a large stock of masks, gloves and gel. But a minimum is not superfluous,” he said. Police unions threatened with strikes on Wednesday for these reasons.