At least one in four female police officers have been confronted with inappropriate behaviour from a male colleague in the last six months, according to a welfare survey carried out among nearly 5,000 police personnel. “The figure is much higher than we expected,” commented Sarah Frederickx of he federal police, but welcomed the presentation of real evidence of the scope of the problem. “This way we have a picture of what’s really going on. Sadly there seems still to be a major taboo here, with people being afraid to report inappropriate behaviour.”
The survey covered 4,846 volunteer subjects, and produced other surprising figures, including the fact that more than half of all respondents would leave the service if other options presented themselves.
The extent of the problem of harassment shows how important it is for the federal police to work harder at making the subject easier for victims to talk about, Frederickx told Bruzz, “so that we can take the right concrete action regarding both the victims and the perpetrators.”
Police union VSOA/SLFP also expressed surprise at the figures. “This was a shock for us, too,” said representative Vincent Houssin. “We knew the results were not going to be good news, but nobody expected it to be this bad.” The situation is dramatically bad not only among the federal police, he said, but some local forces also performed badly on matters of welfare.
The government, he said, has agreed to a union demand for the creation of a working group to deal with welfare policy for employees, but the matter was taking too long. “This has to be dealt with rapidly,” he said. “It’s also high time something was done to make the job more attractive, both locally and federally. Otherwise the police force is on its way to a catastrophe.”