Belgium looks to beef up police security

Belgian police may be given greater freedom for off-duty officers to carry weapons amid growing concern for their safety.

Belgian police. Photo credit: Press Association

By Martin Banks

Martin Banks is a senior reporter at the Parliament Magazine

12 Aug 2016

Under draft proposals, officers may be allowed to carry “more efficient” weapons and to carry these with them at all times.

The proposals follow the machete terror attack in Charleroi on Sunday, which left two female police officers seriously injured.

Police unions have pressed the government to do more to ensure their safety given terror attacks in Belgium and elsewhere.


Following the machete attack, police unions had threatened strike action unless security was beefed up, but have now withdrawn the threat after meetings with Belgium’s interior minister Jan Jambon, CrisisCenter Belgium and threat analysis unit OCAM/OCAD.

Possible measures include the possibility for police to carry arms round-the-clock, including in their private life and on days off, if so decided by the minister. The 24/7 option would be imposed at the national, rather than local, level.

At the same time, a number of guidelines will be issued to better protect police stations.

Vincent Gilles, of the SLFP, the biggest police trade union, said, “This is all about police carrying more efficient weapons. Currently, the guns police men and women have are over 40 years old and there’s a need to purchase new weapons that work better and can deploy bullets faster.”

Jambon said he wants to centralise the authorisation process so that the same rules apply to all police units.

The proposal has not yet been formally approved by royal decree but is expected to be in place within the next six months.

In Sunday’s incident, a 33-year-old Algerian attacked two female police officers with a machete, inflicting serious head-and-neck wounds on one of them. The attack was the latest in a barrage of terror incidents in Europe in recent months.

Meanwhile, the Belgian teenager who appeared in a video calling for the murder of all Christians denies that he is jihadist and that he targeted Christian people. Talking to the French public broadcaster RTBF, he said he regrets the video, saying he will give himself in with the police next week.

The boy is now on holiday in Morocco but RTBF contacted him via Facebook. "I did not target Christians in the video. I was talking about the Alawites, a branch of the Islam, and the Assad regime."

 "I am not linked to a jihadist movement. Far from that. But I expressed myself badly. I am sorry I made the video. It will be hard to restore my image.”

Read the most recent articles written by Martin Banks - New EU regulations on AI seek to ban mass and indiscriminate surveillance

Share this page