Crime in Belgium
Crime in Belgium is countered by the Belgian Police and other agencies.
Crime by type
Muggings, purse snatchings, and pocket picking occur frequently, particularly in major cities. Thieves often loiter in transportation hubs like the Metro (subway) and train stations to take advantage of disoriented or distracted travelers.
Crime and racial tension
A study based on data from 1999 concluded that minors of non-European nationality were overrepresented in crime statistics. While 4.4% of the Belgian population has a non-European nationality, 19% of all prosecuted cases, and 24% of cases presented in youth court involved non-European nationals.
Belgium suffers from foreign criminals targeting it on account of the fact that it is perceived to be a soft touch due to its relatively low crime rate. According to British criminal Colin Blaney in his autobiography Undesirables, an English organized jewelry theft group known as the Wide Awake Firm has operated in Belgium and became involved in violent incidents with outlaw biker gangs.
Terrorism and crime
Besides general safety issues in some boroughs, Brussels reportedly serves as a hub for terrorists, as reported by various sources such as Interpol, and local newspapers such as Het Nieuwsblad. In the same boroughs that pose safety problems (e.g. Sint-Jans-Molenbeek, Schaarbeek, ...) there is radicalisation. This remains however very limited in scale, the occurrence of Belgian nationals directly linked to international terrorism hovering around 0.1-1 per million inhabitants for the last decade.
The two Tunisian nationals who assassinated Commander Massoud in Afghanistan had fake Belgian passports, and the Moroccan Islamic Combatant Group (Groupe Islamique Combattant Marocain, or GICM) has links in Belgium too - there were arrests in Brussels and Antwerp of individuals involved in the Madrid bombing. As a result, stringent measures were taken against passport and other official documents forging.
Crime and politics
Much reported in newspapers were Mayor Moureaux of Molenbeeks's failed attempts at revitalizing the Brussels municipality. An example was the withdrawal of BBDO in June 2011 from the town. In an open letter addressed to Moureaux, ten employees of this American advertising agency cited over 150 attacks on their staff by locals as principal reason for their departure. As a result, serious questions were raised about governance, security, and the administration of Mayor Moureaux.
This played in a wider context of left-right wing political discord lining up with Belgium's Flemish-Walloons language conflict. The case became emblematic of perceived Walloon socialist plotting to let neighbourhoods degrade (by inviting immigrants and offering them social security) to create socialist-voting poor constituents. The Walloon side thought it showed how Flemish media, mostly controlled by openly nationalist families, push a right-wing and xenophobic agenda.
According to Urban Audit, in 2001, Brussels had the fourth highest number of recorded crimes of European capitals (behind Stockholm, Amsterdam, and Berlin, and virtually on a par with Helsinki). According to the same source, Brussels had a rate of 10 murders or violent deaths per 100,000 citizens.
Usually, serious safety issues in Brussels are mostly limited to residential boroughs with a low income population. These include notably Sint-Jans-Molenbeek, Schaarbeek, Anderlecht, and Forest/Vorst.
Belgium's second largest city, Antwerp, saw crime rates about 20% below those of Brussels. Liège and Charleroi, industrial cities with high unemployment rates, saw more elevated crime rates than the less industrialized cities of Ghent and Bruges. The rural areas are generally extremely safe.
- Global Study on Homicide. United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, 2013.
- "Belgium 2013 Crime and Safety Report". OSAC. OSAC. Retrieved 20 October 2014.
- "Global Corruption Barometer 2013- Belgium". Transparency International. Transparency International. Retrieved 17 November 2013.
- Blaney, Colin (2014). Undesirables. John Blake. pp. 210–211. ISBN 978-1782198970.
- "Italy holds 'key Madrid plotter'". BBC. 8 June 2004. Retrieved 9 May 2013.
- "Archives - lacapitale.be". lacapitale.
- bbd. "BBDO zwaar ontgoocheld in Moureaux". De Standaard.
- Beliën, Paul (28 September 2006). "Brussels Returns to Normal, for Now". The Brussels Journal. Retrieved 31 August 2010.
- Belgium USA Department of State.
- Urban Audit: How cities rank
- (in Dutch) Abnormaal veel minderjarige allochtonen in criminaliteitscijfers, Het Laatste Nieuws.
- BBC News Belgian 'suicide bomber' is named.
- Belgian Federal Police (See (in Dutch) and (in French) versions for the most detailed statistics).
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