Policing in Belgium

Policing in Belgium

The Belgian police is the government agency charged with upholding the law and public order in Belgium. It is an integrated police service structured on the federal and local levels. Both forces are autonomous and subordinate to different authorities, but linked in regards to reciprocal support, recruitment, manpower mobility and common training. [Belgian police OSCE entry http://polis.osce.org/countries/details?item_id=8]

The Federal Police

Federale Politie (Dutch) - Police Fédérale (French) - Föderale Polizei (German)

-- () 19:28, 24 September 2008 (UTC)The federal police conduct specialized law enforcement and investigation missions that cover more than one region in Belgium. The federal police have approximately 12,500 personnel that provide support units for the local police and the federal police itself.

There are three operational divisions within the Federal Police:
*the Administrative Police have two functions: they perform specially assigned law enforcement tasks and deliver all kinds of support to the other departments and the Local Police: the traffic police, air police, railway police, the waterway police, the reserve (riot police, prisoners transport), the Royal Escort, dog support unit and the air support unit.
*the Criminal Investigation Police (Federal Judicial Police) investigate heavy, organised and interregional crimes (local crimes are investigated by the Local Police), and conduct proactive and reactive investigation. These investigations involve human and drug trafficking, criminal organisations and groups, murder, armed robbery, fraud, corruption, forgery and missing persons.
*the Support and Management Department delivers human resources, financial and general management to the police organization: recruitment, training, staff management, medical, legal affairs, internal affairs, equipment (standards for both Federal and Local Police are the same), logistics, infrastructure, finance...

The Federal Police is led by a Commissioner General. The Gommissioner General's Office is responsible for contacts with the local police, integrated police operations, coordination and external communication. The International Police Cooperation Division (CGI) is Belgium’s national central bureau for the European Police Office (Europol), Schengen Information System and International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol).

The Commissioner General is also in charge of the the CGSU special units (SWAT and covert surveillance teams) and the national criminfo database.

The Local Police

Lokale Politie (Dutch) - Police Locale (French) - Lokale Polizei (German)

The local police is made up of 196 police forces constituted from the former communal and gendarmerie brigades. 50 police forces cover the territory of one municipality (one-city zone) and 146 cover more than one municipality (multi-city zone). [Belgian local police OSCE entry http://polis.osce.org/countries/details.php?item_id=8#Country_Profile_Section_62]

Each local police chief is responsible for the execution of local law enforcement policy and ensures the management, organization and distribution of missions in the local police force. She or he works under the authority of the mayor in one-city zones, or under a police board composed of all the mayors from the different municipalities in a multi-city police zone.

Its philosophy envisions a global and integrated approach to security based on maximum visibility focusing police activities on a limited area, which should optimize contact between the police and the population. It aims to restore public confidence in the police force and of improve the objective and subjective feeling of security in communities.


Each police force consists of an operational cadre of police and auxiliary police plus civilian personnel for administrative and logistic work. At the moment, approx. 30,000 local police and 900 civilians work in the 196 regional police forces. The numerical strength of the police is determined by the police board for multi-city zones or by the town council for one-city zones, which must match the minimal standards set by law. Also a Permanent Commission for the Local Police represents all local police services at national level and provides advice on all problems relating to the local police.


To guarantee a minimum service to the population, Belgian law provides six basic functions for the local police: Community policing, responsiveness, intervention, victim support, local criminal investigation and maintaining public order.

*Community policing consists of developing neighborhood relations and maintaining police visibility. This mission is not merely one of maintaining a physical presence but also of local dialogue, exchange of ideas and personal relationships. The norms call for at least 1 community officer per 4,000 inhabitants.

*Responsiveness means giving answers to citizens who appear in person, call by phone or write to the police. Sometimes they are directed to an internal service or a more suitable external service. Each police zone maintains a permanent point of contact. In the multi-city-zones, each city or municipality has its own police-post which, if not accessible 24 hours a day, gives citizens the opportunity to get in touch with the police.

*The intervention function consists of responding to all calls, where police intervention is needed, within an appropriate time. This response can be, depending on the case and the context (seriousness, necessity, circumstances), immediate or delayed; in this last case, the inquirer must be informed about the cause of the delay and the duration.

*The victims unit gives assistance to victims of crime. Each police officer is expected to give victim support. In serious cases, the police force may use a police officer specially trained to handle victims.

*The local criminal investigation unit supports local police in the investigation of local crime. In each local police force, about 7 to 10 percent of the force’s personnel work for the investigations division.

*Maintaining public order means protecting or, when necessary, restoring public order, security and public health. This not only means maintaining public order at large events such as demonstrations, football matches or local festivities but also environmental problems and traffic.

Police Ranks

*"Hoofdcommissaris/Commissaire Divisionnaire" - Chief Police Commissioner
*"Commissaris/Commissaire" - Police Commissioner
*"Aspirant-commissaris/Aspirant Commissaire" - Candidate Police Commissioner
*"Hoofdinspecteur/Inspecteur Principal" - Chief Inspector
*"Aspirant-hoofdinspecteur/Aspirant Inspecteur Principal" - Candidate Chief Inspector
*"Inspecteur/Inspecteur" - Inspector
*"Aspirant-inspecteur/Aspirant Inspecteur" - Candidate Inspector
*"Hulpagent/Agent Auxiliaire" - Auxiliary Police Officer


In 2001, the Belgian police underwent a fundamental structural reform that created a completely new police system. A Belgian parliamentary report into a series of pedophile murders accused the police of negligence, amateurism and incompetence in investigating the cases. The loss of public confidence in the police was so great that the whole population deemed the reform indispensable. [ [ 403 Forbidden ] ]

The three former police forces, the municipal police, the national law enforcement service ("Rijkswacht/Gendarmerie") and the national judicial police (assigned to the offices of the public prosecutors) gave way to an integrated police service structured on two levels. [ [http://www.polfed-fedpol.be] "The integrated police: who does what?" (Dutch, French and German)]


* Glock pistols

ee also

*Committee P

*Police vehicles in Belgium

*Grand Ducal Police, Luxembourg

*Policing in the Netherlands


External links

* [http://www.polfed.be Belgian Police homepage]
* [http://www.Belgium.be/ Official site of the Belgian federal government]
* [http://eudocs.lib.byu.edu/index.php/History_of_Belgium:_Primary_Documents History of Belgium: Primary Documents]
* [http://wiki.uscpublicdiplomacy.com:16080/mediawiki/index.php/Belgium USC Center on Public Diplomacy Nation Profile]


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