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Fewer police in Brussels able to speak Dutch

21:27 07/03/2024

The number of Brussels police officers who are proficient in Dutch has dropped below half, according to figures requested from Vlaams Belang party leader Barbara Pas.

Belgium’s interior minister Annelies Verlinden (CD&V) provided the numbers, which show that more than 96% of the 6,706 police officers employed in the various Brussels police districts master the French language, while only 3,305 officers (about 49%) are proficient in Dutch.

In 2021, 55.5% of Brussels officers were proficient in Dutch, but the number of bilingual officers in the Belgian capital has been falling for much longer, since 2012.

Until 2009, about 70% of Brussels police mastered both Dutch and French, but since 2012 that proportion has dropped.

The number of Brussels police officers who consider Dutch to be their first language has remained more or less stable over the past four years at about a quarter of the total, but the number of French-speaking officers who know Dutch has fallen from 37.8% to 32.1% since 2021.

Conversely, the number of Dutch-speaking police officers with knowledge of French also fell, currently sitting at 85.5%.

Barbara Pas (Vlaams Belang) blamed the French-language education system in Brussels, saying it fails to produce enough bilingual graduates.

Pas also accuses the Brussels police zones of openly flouting language laws, which dictate that officers be bilingual, saying Verlinden and her predecessor Jan Jambon (N-VA) have “always stuck their heads in the sand”.

Written by Helen Lyons