Belgium adopts new measures to combat violence against police officers

Belgian Interior minister Annelies Verlinden and Justice minister Vincent Van Quickenborne have introduced a new plan of action to tackle violence against police officers, focusing on five pillars: prevention, victim support, zero tolerance, citizen participation and administrative support. The ministers presented their new approach, which came about in cooperation with the police unions, via a press release on Sunday.

The first pillar is prevention. For instance, smooth and quick registration of violence should make it possible to take the most appropriate preventive measures. These include using bodycams, electric shock weapons, and education and training, such as communication techniques on de-escalation.

Second, police officers who become victims of violence should be helped first and foremost, regardless of all procedures. They should be able to count on psychosocial assistance and shelter, with the integrated police bearing the cost. Every police zone and the federal department will have a contact person to guide victims of violence and their families through administrative procedures and provide guidance and information at all stages.

Third, zero tolerance will be extended to acts of rebellion that resulted in at least one day of incapacitation. Furthermore, a specialised magistrate for violence against police will be designated for each prosecutor's office.

The fourth pillar concerns civil partiality. Minister Verlinden is asking local authorities to take a civil stand on violence against members of their force, as she does on violence against members of the federal police. This should reinforce the message that violence against the police is unacceptable.

Finally, the integrated police and government are committed to supporting victims in the various administrative procedures they face after a violent incident.

The new measures follow Yassine M.'s attack on two police officers in Brussels earlier this month. Using a knife, the perpetrator attacked two police officers, killing one and seriously injuring his colleague.


© BELGA PHOTO Eric Lalmand


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