Maritime police scale down fight against drug mafia in port of Antwerp due to budget cuts

A number of patrols of the maritime police in the port of Antwerp are being scrapped due to cutbacks and there will be no more “major special actions to undermine major crime phenomena”, reported Gazet van Antwerpen and Het Nieuwsblad on Saturday.

As a result of a new round of cost-cutting measures, officers of the heavily understaffed shipping police will have to limit their overtime to an absolute minimum and it will be forbidden to work too many weekend shifts. However, these shifts are crucial: they allow the police force to perform special actions at night and at weekends to undermine drug trafficking. This is now being phased out.

The number of regular combat patrols is also being reduced, and one out of two boats in the Antwerp port will be making far fewer trips.

“It seems as if this government is pursuing a ‘rotting strategy’ and is bleeding the federal police dry. Major crime is given free rein.”

The port of Antwerp is known to be one of the major import hubs for illegal drugs in Europe. “We don’t understand this”, responds Joery Dehaes of the ACV trade union. “It seems as if this government is pursuing a ‘rotting strategy’ and is bleeding the federal police dry. Major crime is given free rein.”

Belgian minister of Interior Affairs Annelies Verlinden (CD&V, christian democrats) promised she will plead with the government for a budget increase for the federal police. “But you can’t turn around a historic backlog in just a year and a half”, she said, referring to the end of the current federal government’s legislature.





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