First ministerial conference on Belgian-Dutch cross-border crime

Koen Geens, the Belgian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Justice, and Pieter De Crem, the Belgian Minister of the Interior and Security, will be receiving their Dutch colleague Ferdinand Grapperhaus, the Dutch Minister for Justice and Security in Brussels, for the first ever Belgian-Dutch conference on cross-border crime.

The ministers will be reaching agreements on fighting crime, in particular organised crime. Both countries are well aware of the need to coordinate how the respective countries deal with crime even better, working together on this, especially in fighting drugs smuggling and human trafficking, motorcycle gangs and ATM gas attacks.

The conference is therefore also intended to identify and discuss the existing consultation structures between the two countries. Another topic that will be delved into is the information exchange between the respective police forces and judicial services, which will be reviewed and assessed to determine where further improvement is possible.

Minister of Justice and Security Grapperhaus:

'Subversive crime is being dealt with severely in the Netherlands, by making extra investments, introducing new legislation and by setting up a special Multidisciplinary Intervention Team (MIT). However, we cannot deal with these ruthless criminals on our own, and need the help of our Belgian colleagues. This first conference is an excellent beginning to strengthening and reinforcing the cooperation between the Dutch and Belgian police forces and judicial services and improving the information exchange between them.'

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Justice Geens:

'The police and the judicial authorities have been paying extra attention to cross-border crime, such as drugs-related crime, in recent years. The Arrondissement of Antwerp is still leading the country when it comes to drugs possession, with 6867 offences registered in 2018. When it comes to drugs production though, Limburg heads the list, with 222 registered drugs manufacture offences in 2018, primarily involving cannabis.'

Minister of the Interior and Security De Crem:

'Belgium is a country that is modest in size, geographically speaking, with a unique strategic location. Of course this also has consequences in relation to security and cross-border crime, creating challenges for us when it comes to transient groups of criminals such as ATM gas attack gangs or ones involved in drugs smuggling and human trafficking. Crime ignores borders, so we need to work more intensively and increase the information flow with our Dutch partners. This first ministerial conference is creating fresh momentum to realise a strong, mutual approach, with the intention of achieving results quickly in this domain.'