Belgian Policy on Public Perceptions on Safety

The public perception of safety reflects the individual’s view on aspects of the environment and issues of perceived or actual signs of criminality, appearance of disorder and the practical or perceived experience of the criminal justice system.

This policy area includes:

Issues which may be civil or criminal in nature, including those issues of crime reduction in which the individual or community expects the state to provide the necessary structures and resources to protect them or their community;

Criminal acts against which the individual is empowered to protect themselves or the community from becoming victims;

Aspects of incivility or civil issues, particularly, but not solely, evidenced by perceptions of anti social acts by individuals or groups, against an individual, the community or the local environment.

An integrated security and police policy rest among others on the population’s security needs. The authorities have multiple sources and information methods to get to know the local population’s needs. What is important here is the development of a security and police policy, the efficient use of these sources and information methods and the centralization of this information.

Next to the Federal Police’s police statistics and the Federal Public Service Justice’s judicial statistics there is a tool called “Security Monitor” since 1997. This is a survey among the population in which civilians are asked about security matters and the operation of the police. This survey contains questions about neighbourhood problems, the feeling of insecurity, victimization and the reporting of crimes, as well as about the contacts between de civilians and the police, about the functioning of the police and the basic characteristics of the person questioned.

Next to other instruments such as official police and judicial statistics, the Security Monitor can sketch security/insecurity phenomena. Further than surveying the population’s security and police needs, the Security Monitor furnishes data that can be used for approaching real security and victimization data. The Security Monitor is an important instrument for victims’ behaviour, since it can also give an indication on the unregistered criminality (i.e. the black number).

The results of the Security Monitor are data that are essential for the development and evaluation of security and prevention policies. More specifically, the Security Monitor is a tool that is useful for preparing and executing national and local police policies (national and local security plans) and for the preparation and evaluation of the strategic security and prevention plans.