"Sentences under 3 years should be served"

Belgium's brand new Justice Minister, Annemie Turtelboom (Flemish liberal), has spoken of her incomprehension that prison sentences of less than three years are hardly ever served in Belgium.

At present people convicted by the Belgian courts for such sentences are hardly ever obliged to serve them because of prison overcrowding. Ms Turtelboom acknowledges that if matters are to change more prison places and prison staff will be needed.

"It's a very ambitious goal. Maybe it won't be possible for all types of crime, but every sentence that is served means a more correct implementation of penal policy."

Ms Turtelboom recognises that greater funding will be needed and this is an obstacle in times of austerity.

Four new prisons are planned, but two of the projects are now blocked for the minute.