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POLICE IN MODERN SOCIETY - CENTRALIZATION OR DECENTRALIZATION - THE BELGIAN CASE (FROM INTERNATIONAL SEMINAR ON POLICE RESEARCH - FINAL REPORT, OCTOBER 1976, BY LODE VAN OUTRIVE AND SAMIR RIZKALLA - SEE NCJ-49588)

NCJ Number
49592
Author(s)
L V OUTRIVE
Date Published
1976
Length
8 pages
Annotation
THE HISTORICAL EVOLUTION OF THE CENTRALIZATION OF POLICE POWER AT THE NATIONAL LEVEL IN BELGIUM IS DISCUSSED, AND ITS CONTEMPORARY CONSEQUENCES ARE ASSESSED.
Abstract
IT IS NOTED THAT AFTER THE BELGIAN REVOLUTION OF 1830 THE DETERMINATION OF THE POWER RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN CENTRAL AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT BECAME ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT AND CONTROVERSIAL POLITICAL QUESTIONS IN THE COUNTRY. THE CONCENTRATION OF POWER IN THE CENTRAL GOVERNMENT BECAME DECISIVE AFTER WORLD WAR II. THE ORGANIZATION AND DEVELOPMENT OF THE BELGIAN POLICE SYSTEM REFLECTS THIS TREND. 'LA GENDARMERIE NATIONALE' HAS BECOME THE MOST POWERFUL AND BEST EQUIPPED POLICE ORGANIZATION IN THE COUNTRY. IT IS BELIEVED THAT THIS TREND TOWARD THE CENTRALIZATION OF POWER IN THE 'GENDARMERIE' IS DUE TO THE FOLLOWING FACTORS: THE LACK OF AN OPERATIONAL CONCEPTION OF LOCAL AUTONOMY IN TRADITIONAL BELGIAN POLITICAL CIRCLES; THE MENACE OF PUBLIC DISORDER FROM ONGOING HOSTILITIES BETWEEN VARIOUS GROUPS IN THE COUNTRY; THE EVOLUTION OF CERTAIN POLICE TASKS FOR WHICH CENTRALIZED POLICE FORCES ALONE ARE CONSIDERED ADEQUATE; A LACK OF COLLECTIVE ACTION WITHIN THE LOCAL POLICE FORCES TO PROMOTE COMMON INTERESTS; AND A LACK OF PARLIAMENTARY AND PUBLIC DISCUSSION, AS WELL AS RESEARCH ABOUT POLICE PROBLEMS. POLICE ORGANIZATIONS, BOTH NATIONAL AND LOCAL, ARE NOTED TO EXPRESS DISSATISFACTION WITH THE IMBALANCE OF POWER WITHIN THE POLICE SYSTEM IN FAVOR OF THE 'GENDARMERIE'. IT IS THE AUTHOR'S OPINION THAT THE WHOLE POLICE SYSTEM NEEDS REVISION. THE CREATION OF A REGULATIVE SYSTEM ON THE NATIONAL LEVEL TO PERMIT THE FUNCTIONING OF REGIONAL AND LOCAL POLICE FORCES CLOSE TO THE CITIZENRY IS RECOMMENDED. AN ADEQUATE SYSTEM OF EXTERNAL CONTROL OVER THE POLICE IS CONSIDERED ESSENTIAL. (RCB)