Established in 2003, VICLAS stands for Violent Crime Linkage Analysis System (VICLAS), and was set up by federal police in order to gather information on violent and sexual crimes or offences.
The database relies heavily on reports by local police, to whom victims usually testify immediately after a crime or incident has taken place.
While VICLAS’ aim is to serve as a central pool of information allowing to link diverse sexual offences and crimes in order to track down perpetrators, local police zones’ engagement with the database has been meagre since it was first implemented, De Standaard reports.
As a result, investigations into sexual offences and crimes continue to draw a blank and, when no perpetrator is found, the investigation is often shelved, leading to frustration for victims and potentially discouraging future reports.
Criticism of the allegedly choppy cooperation between a Brussels local police zone and federal authorities in the case of a gang accused of forcing minors into prostitution is the latest issue to highlight the decentralised functioning of law enforcement in Belgium, a touchy subject which has opposed politicians in Brussels and beyond for years.