Judicial police flat broke?

An internal memo from the acting director general of the judicial police, François Farcy, could be mistaken for the kind of message often heard within struggling companies: do more with less staff and financial resources.

The police chief put it in these terms: “Against a budgetary background that is more and more strained with less staff every month (400 employees short by the end of 2013) and with limited resources, the federal judicial police is nevertheless pursuing its fight against serious and organized crime.”

He thanked his brigades for recent successful operations, such as the dismantling of the “biggest synthetic drugs laboratory in Europe, and of the ‘clan A’ gang, the shutdown of a Hell’s Angels chapter in Mons, the arrest of Albanian gangs and the seizure of cannabis plantations in Liège.”

He went on to reassure his troops. “In terms of resources, the director general [i.e. him] is doing the maximum within the Executive Committee and in tandem with authorities to safeguard our budgets and in striving to obtain the resources we are lacking. I’m not going to make false promises, however. times are hard, our budget is limited, and we’ll have to make hard choices again sometime soon.”

According to Eddy Lebon, president of the Sypol.be union, which essentially made up of members of the judicial police, “It’s nice to hear a leader trying to motivate personnel.” As far as he is concerned, the situation is desperate.

“In the three years ahead, we’ll lose another 500 agents to retirement which will put us down 900 agents overall. Commitments have been secured for Camera Control Units, forensic experts and for zonal forces, but the budgetary shortfall (€108 million less than the 2014 budget) that we are facing is a barrier to the recruitment of any agents tasked with essential missions such as the battle against crime and criminals.” The judicial police is, along with traffic police, the department with the highest average age (50). “And training a young person, if we managed to recruit him, takes several years. Valuable experience will be lost. It’s as if we were leaving the key under the welcome mat.”

Farcy confirmed his competence and budget-related concerns to us, “Given that crime is evolving – terrorism, internet etc. – we could like to continue to establish proactive projects, but we are often forced into reacting rather than being proactive.” One suspects that solutions are now likely to be forthcoming.

MARC METDEPENNINGEN

 

 

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