Antwerp to recruit its own police force

Summary

Antwerp is to become the only city in Belgium to recruit its own police officers, as it faces the challenge of replacing retired staff

Should the City of Antwerp be allowed to recruit and hire its own police officers?

More connected to the city

Next year, Antwerp will become the only city in the country to recruit its own police force, following a decision by federal home affairs minister Jan Jambon. The project will last for two years.

In normal circumstances, police in Belgium are recruited via a centralised selection procedure, and in theory a member of the federal police can be asked to serve anywhere. However, over the next few years, Antwerp faces the problem of replacing about 500 of its 2,600-strong force as officers become eligible for retirement.

“Every time I talk to my police chief, shortage of staff is on the agenda,” Antwerp mayor Bart De Wever said. “Filling vacancies is a weekly problem, as the wave of pensions reaches cruising speed.”

The change comes at the request of De Wever to his party colleague Jambon. According to De Wever, it will allow more targeted recruitment campaigns in city schools. It also brings two other advantages: officers will be more connected to the city, and it will allow more diversity. “If we’re recruiting for ourselves among Antwerp’s young people, then we will automatically obtain a better representation of other groups of the population,” De Wever said.

Meanwhile, it was revealed that Antwerp spends more than twice as much of its budget on police as the Flemish average. Forecasts from the Flemish administration suggest that by 2019, the city will spend €403 per inhabitant on the police force, compared to €161 on average in the rest of Flanders, and €336 in Ghent.

Photo courtesy bert76/Wikimedia