This country profile was migrated from the legacy system and the new text is under consideration of the respective government authorities.

Policing overview: An in-depth structural reform created a new police service in 2001, structured at the federal and local level. Although each works independently and has its own distinct spheres of authority, they are complementary and co-operate closely to ensure security and preserve democracy.

Federal Police

1. General information
An in-depth structural reform created a new police service in 2001, re-organized at both the federal and local level. Although each level works independently and has its own distinct spheres of authority, they are complementary and co-operate closely to ensure security and preserve democracy.

The strong points of the national policy are defined in the National Safety Plan, which also includes measures that must be taken into account when the Local Safety Plans are set up. A Federal Safety Council assesses the work and general organization of the police services.

2. Functions and missions 
The Federal Police works in co-operation with local police services to enhance domestic security and guarantee democracy. Integrity, impartiality and a sense of responsibility are the pillars of the Federal Police, which is basically charged with the execution of particular missions (including those overlapping more than one locality) of the administrative and judicial police, as well as provision of specialized support to the local police.

3. Structure and organization 
Heading the organization is a Commissioner General whose role is to co-ordinate the work of five general directorates. A number of departments report directly to him. These directorates are responsible for communication with the local police, integrated police operations, external communication co-ordination and international co-operation. The directorate for international co-operation ensures the permanent optimisation of the support of the conception and execution of the police policy regarding international police co-operation, by supplying expertise, non-operational information and analyses for the benefit of the authorities and police services. It also contributes to the permanent optimisation of the coordination and integrated action of the police, notably through the control of the international police co-operation by the integrated police and the coordination of the way bilateral co-operation agreements with neighbouring countries, with EU Member States, with candidates and other countries are carried out. The five General Directorates and their missions are as follows:

  • The Administrative Police, in addition to administrative and managerial matters, is also responsible for supervising general traffic circulation, such as the Traffic Police on the motorways, the Maritime Police on the North Sea and internal waterways, the Railway Police on the railway network, and the Aeronautical Police in the national airport and five regional airports; the latter is also responsible for immigration and border control. 
    Some officers of this General Directorate also carry out protection duties, such as the protection of the Royal Palaces or escorting cash transports. It co-ordinates Belgian participation in international humanitarian police missions and supports administrative authorities and the local police (e.g. putting mounted police and/or water cannons at their disposal to handle public order problems). 
    Finally, this Directorate includes a Co-ordination and Support Service (SCA) in each district that facilitate administrative police actions involving several police zones.

  • The Judicial Police centrally co-ordinates police responses to specific criminal phenomena, such as crimes against persons (e.g. trafficking of human beings, drugs, etc.); against goods (e.g. theft), organized crime, and economic and financial crimes (e.g. corruption). In the latter, it conducts its own enquiries. The Directorate also oversees a number of special support operations, such as phone-tapping, the management of informers, and the scientific and technical police (forensics). 
    The Directorate has, on the one hand, central directorates and, on the other hand, decentralised judicial departments. Whereas the central directorates are in charge of the development, support, coordination and follow-up of judicial missions, the decentralised services are in charge of carrying out the judicial investigations.

  • The Operational Support Directorate puts at the disposal of the local and federal police certain specialized, practical instruments (e.g. Special Intervention Units, the Canine Division, the Air Support Division), documentation and facilities needed by field police services to carry out their missions (e.g. data processing, telephone and radio-communication) and enhance the international and operational police co-operation.

  • The Logistics Directorate manages the equipment of the Federal Police (i.e. buildings, vehicles, armaments, furniture), as well as its financial means. It also provides logistical support to requesting local police services.

  • The Human Resources Directorate deals with personnel matters, ensuring that every department within the police has appropriate staff at its disposal. The HR Directorate is in charge of recruitment and training, relations with the unions and the management of health and safety issues on the work floor.

4. Education / Training
Based on the principle of “community policing”, training police officers is an important factor in the creation of a police policy respectful of the values of democratic societies. Training permits police officers to develop their careers in a positive way, including the possibility of reaching the upper levels of the police hierarchy. A harmonized educational common denominator facilitates staff flexibility. 

The Training Board, which emerged from the reform of the Belgian police services, falls directly under the Federal Police’s Directorate of Human Resources and is charged with initiating, developing, co-ordinating, evaluating and harmonizing the totality of foreseen training programmes at the federal level. 

The Training Board represents the interests, resources and national needs with regard to police co-operation insofar as training is concerned. It also co-ordinates authority and chairs the Belgian representation within the governing board of the European Police College (CEPOL). Finally, it pilots cross-border co-operation projects in police training, notably with France.

5. Oversight
The Standing Police Monitoring Committee is the organ of external control of all agents having police competencies.

↑ Back to top

Local Police

1. Structure and organization
The Belgian Police is composed of 196 local police forces arising from the merger of the former municipal police and the former territorial brigades from the state police (gendarmerie). Fifty police services coincide with the territory of one city or town (single-city-zone) and 146 coincide with more than one city and/or town (multi-city-zones). 

Each local police corps is under the leadership of a Chief of Police, responsible for the execution of the local police policy who organizes and delegates tasks in the local police corps under the authority of the mayor. Every one of these local police corps has a Local Safety Council which formulates the Local Safety Plan, executes it, and if necessary, revises it.

The police board is represented by town councilors from the different cities or townships in the police zone, based on the number of inhabitants; each city council has at the least one legal representative. 

A Permanent Commission for the Local Police represents all local police services on a national level. On the initiative or demand of authorities, it provides advice on all problems relative to the local police.


2. Staff data
Each police corps consists of an operational cadre of policemen and auxiliary policemen, and an administrative and logistical cadre, composed of civilian personnel. 

As of 2006, there were 28,550 local policemen and 862 members of the administrative and logistical cadre working together in the 196 different local police forces. The numerical strength is defined by the police board of multi-city-zones or by the town council for single-city-zones, corresponding to the minimal standards, as provided by law. (Royal Decree 05.09.2001) 

The police board is represented by town councilors from different cities or municipalities in the police zone, based on their respective numbers of inhabitants; each city council has at least one legal representative. 

↑ Back to top