Figures requested by Sabien-Lahaye Battheu (Open VLD) from Interior Minister Jan Jambon (N-VA), during parliamentary questioning, show that both the federal and the local police are struggling with manpower shortages. In total, more than 3,700 need to be hired to make up for these shortages, according to Het Nieuwsblad. The federal police are looking for 1,620 people, the local police 2.097. Three quarters of the police zones are understaffed; especially in the big cities. Only Antwerp is the exception.
According to the police unions, the shortage of agents has consequences in the field. They say the recruitment process must also be accelerated.
“If this takes a long time, the federal police simply can no longer work properly. We are at a critical stage,” says Frédéric Fortunato of the police union NSPV/SNPS.
“The outflow is much greater than the intake, because many agents will retire in the coming years,” says Patrick Roijens of the VSOA/SFLP police union. “The range of tasks is increasing and must be done by fewer people, officers have to work longer and do more weekend shifts. They can hardly take their vacation, which also has social consequences.”
Many insider admit that Jambon is making efforts and there is no lack of resources,. The police service have been given additional funds, especially after the attacks of 22 March. Only the recruitment is too slow. More than 1,400 agents per year enter into service, while 1,700 agents leave the force each year. “We are recruiting at a very fast pace, but the schools are full and the necessary resources are available,” says a spokesman for Jambon’s office.