Report reveals culture of silence within Antwerp’s police

An investigation by the Police Complaints Committee, Comité P has revealed a culture of silence when it comes to racist bullying and racial discrimination within the Antwerp Local Police Service. Comité P has ordered the Antwerp Local Police Service to immediately start working on a coherent and effective anti-discrimination plan.

The Antwerp force has already said that is to launching an internal anti-discrimination campaign next month.

A few years ago a number of police officers with foreign roots complained of racism that they had suffered from colleagues within the Antwerp Police Service.

According to the Comité P report, a culture of silence exists within the Antwerp Local Police Service, meaning that both ethnic minority and white officers don’t report racist incidents for fear of reprisals by their colleagues.

"I the first instance we looked at whether there were measures on paper about tackling racism within the police service. Once we have looked at these documents and have talked to those involved we looked at what ethnic minority officers’ experiences on the work floor. We questioned around 20 people”, Comité P’s Diane Reynders told VRT News.

The report is particularly critical of the leadership of the Antwerp Local Police Service under Antwerp’s previous Mayor Patrick Janssens (socialist). Comité P recognises that things have changed under the current police chief Serge Muyters.

Next month the police will launch an internal campaign to encourage police officers to report racist comments or behaviour to a the Police Diversity Network officer.