After a 2-hour meeting with Justice minister Koen Geens on Wednesday morning, it seems unavoidable that the Cab (Brussels support centre) in charge of supporting and treating sex criminals will be closed down, says Francis Martens, vice-president of the Cab board of directors. The institution is scheduled to close next October. Minister Koen Geens did however promise to try to find funds at the next budget review in September. “We find it hard to fathom as this would set a precedent,” believes Francis Martens. “All the minister can do is insist that the Finance minister pay up in due time and not 6 months late. But this will not be enough as we are already working with the bare minimum.”
As early as July, the 4 staff employed at the centre, representing 2 and half full-time jobs, will be getting their pink slips. Unlike the 2 other national centres, Cab has no other income. It deals with an average of 300 cases per year. If it does have to close, conditions for conditional release or probation will not be met.
“Brussels magistrates will therefore be sending offenders to prison for a long time. This will affect approximately 100 offenders and will cost almost 5.475 million euros a year. In other words, the 36,000 euros saved on the 180,000-euro Cab budget will cost almost 5.5 million euros a year. For budgetary reasons, we were not in a position to start follow-up treatment in prison. Prisoners will thus leave, both scarred and with no support on the outside, ready to reoffend. We are going back to the “pre-Dutroux” era.