Brussels is to stop prosecuting certain types of crime amid a crippling shortage of staff within the city’s magistrate’s office.
Brussels Prosecutor Tim De Wolf had already raised the issue of dwindling staff in a letter to politicians several months back but appears to have been ignored.
With the number of magistrates in the city having continued to fall since then, De Wolf has announced that his office will stop trying to prosecute certain crimes in a desperate attempt to prioritise resources.
“Our priorities include violence and drug trafficking,” he told Belgian newspaper De Tijd.
When asked what crimes public prosecutors would no longer be pursuing, De Wolf was reportedly hesitant to answer too specifically.
“To give an example: we no longer deal with a theft without violence via summary proceedings,” he told the outlet, adding: “I can’t give too many details about our prosecution policy.
“We don’t let go of any form of crime completely, but we weigh up the seriousness of the facts, the antecedents of a perpetrator … All kinds of factors play a role.”
A sharp rise in crime around the Brussels-Midi train station has gained public attention in Belgium after a video of a family left stranded there for a night went viral. https://t.co/ZyAnOzm0hI
— Brussels Signal (@brusselssignal) July 28, 2023
De Wolf was also pressured over the spike in crime around Brussels-South train station, with locals reporting an increase in thefts and anti-social behaviour there.
Although insisting that there have been “no indications” that the crime increase and the shortage of magistrates are related, he said his office was working alongside other authorities to try to solve the issue.
“Together with other services involved, we are working on a plan for unaccompanied [migrant] minors in the vicinity of Brussels-South station,” he explained.
De Wolf added that the city would not be able to prosecute its way out of the problem and that a more “pedagogical approach” was needed.
His announcement comes as the crime situation in Brussels spirals out of control, with police in the city having struggled to suppress criminal activities in and around both the city’s north and south railway stations.
Even wildlife in the city is not safe, with there being multiple reports of swans being trapped and eaten, seemingly by those struggling financially.
According to a report earlier in the month, there are now only 34 swans left in the entirety of Brussels, seemingly due to human predation.
Only 34 swans remain in Brussels after a rise in suspected poaching in the Belgian capital. https://t.co/I4tbqGFgKt
— Brussels Signal (@brusselssignal) August 10, 2023