Belgian Policy on Youth crime

In Belgium, juvenile delinquency is defined as a general category which includes problematic forms of behaviour or offences qualified as offences committed by youngsters who haven’t reached the age of 18 years yet. These offences are for instance thefts, burglaries with or without violence, vandalism, racism-linked offences, racketeering, different forms of nuisance including attacks on the environment, offences against others, etc.

When they have reached the age of majority, the young offenders no longer fall under the legislation specific for juvenile delinquency.

The phenomenon is no longer considered a priority within the framework of the National Security Plan, but the Policy Document of 2011 from the Government makes it a community matter. The Communities will decide by themselves about the nature of the measures which can be taken regarding minors who have committed an fact qualified as an offence. The department of Justice remains qualified for questions related to the procedure. Some working groups have been set up and gather on a regular basis in order to make this a community issue.

 For this purpose, an integral and integrated approach to youth crime is considered important. Various partners in different links of the security chain are involved.

  • Pro-action: French Community of Belgium, Flemish Community of Belgium, different associations engaged in youth (problems), etc.
  • Prevention: French Community, Flemish Community, strategic security and prevention plans of the cities and municipalities (granted by the Minister of Home Affairs), public-private partnerships, collaboration protocols between schools and police, different associations engaged in youth (problems), etc.
  • Repression: police, district attorney, youth court, etc.
  • Follow-up: youth assistance associations, French Community, Flemish Community, Brussels Capital-Region, Flanders, Wallonia, etc.