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Thousands more police on beat

Published on 22/11/2004

22 November 2004

BRUSSELS – Thousands of Belgian policemen and women are to be pulled off of administrative tasks in a bid to get thousands more officers on the beat, it was reported on Monday.

Belgium’s Interior and Justice Ministers have drafted a memo highlighting 24 duties for which the police are not responsible.

They don’t want to see officers collecting market taxes, looking for lost or dangerous animals, managing lost property or distributing papers for the local authorities.

“The government wants more officers on the streets,” said the Interior Minister’s chief superintendent Fernand Koekelberg.

“By 2008, 3150 extra police officers should be on the street. Lots of officers are currently busy with duties which have nothing to do with the job of a policeman.”

Civil servants who don’t cooperate with local forces to take over these tasks could get their bosses into trouble since managers and mayors can face disciplinary action on the issue.

However, most towns and communes believe the majority of tasks named in the memo are already being carried out by their civil servants.

The president of the union of Flemish towns and communes Jef Gabriels, also the mayor for Gent, said the memo would serve as a reminder to everyone concerned about what the police shouldn’t be doing.

Charleroi’s mayor Jacques Van Hompel said his town had taken on 200 extra police officers, swelling spending on policing to EUR 40 million and leading to a budget deficit of EUR 11million.

He said Charleroi now wanted to see the federal government foot the bill for an additional 150 to 200 officers.

“The police reform has been a real success in putting the brakes on serious crime but the feeling of insecurity is still there,” said Van Hompel.

He said one of the ways to tackle that problem was to introduce more neighbourhood police officers with a preventative role.

[Copyright Expatica 2004]

Subject: Belgian news