“We don’t have the staff to investigate all serious crimes”

Federal prosecutor Frédéric van Leeuw has confirmed media reports that cases of serious crime are not being investigated due to a shortage of investigators.

Police chiefs and chief prosecutors were in parliament yesterday to impress on lawmakers the need for more staff and a higher budget: they showed MPs dreadful crime dossier images – hacked off limbs and heads, mutilated bodies - and insisted they were not always able to investigate such cases.

Normally cases like these involving a threat to life are prioritised but today that is not always possible.  Van Leeuw told VRT he was having to make choices and currently didn’t have the means to investigate a weapons trafficking case.

Detectives say their workload increased exponentially after they were able to hack into encrypted Sky ECC telephones and read countless messages sent by criminals.  Hundreds of new dossiers were opened while the number of investigators fell.  A thousand of the two thousand investigators working for the federal judicial police are involved in Sky ECC-related cases.

Van Leeuw highlights the lack of a central body that can provide an accurate picture of criminality and criminal phenomena: the impact of bikers’ gangs, drug trafficking and corruption all need to be mapped out.

Police chiefs and head public prosecutors argue that investments promised by the justice and home ministers won’t suffice.  They are pressing for an increase in the federal judicial police budget as well as efforts to make the job more attractive e.g. by better promotion opportunities.

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