"700 police officers fewer out on the beat"

Fresh legislation requiring the presence of a lawyer the very first time that a suspect is questioned by the police has had an impact on the number of officers that are available for duties out on the beat. Police sources say that as a result of the legislation introduced on 1 January 2012 700 fewer officers were available for work out on the beat.

The police say that half of all questionings now take longer than one hour as a result of the new law. Before the introduction of the new law matters went a lot faster with 80% of interviews concluded within the hour.

Marc Hellinckx of the Local Police Commission says that this is having ramifications for other police work. Lawyers aren't allowed to intervene during questionings, only when the rights of the suspect are being violated, but Marc Hellinckx says that in practice things often turn out differently.

"There are problems between the lawyer and the police, because the lawyer wants to intervene during the interview and in the present system this is not allowed."