The Youth and Police project in Antwerp aims to improve relationships through communication and understanding

Sarhan Basem
credit: vrt

Antwerp: (Brussels Morning) The Youth and Police project in Antwerp funded by Minister Benjamin Dalle aims to improve relationships between young people youth workers and the police through regular communication and mutual understanding.

The Youth and Police project in Antwerp is going well. It started in 2022 with money from Minister Benjamin Dalle and support from the city. Now, they’re extending it for another year with 50,000 euros. The goal is to improve the relationship between young people, youth work and the police.

How the Youth and Police project in Antwerp aims to improve relationships between young people, youth workers and the police?

Filip Balthau from JES zw who is running the project says it’s good that they’re not focusing on just one area. The project covers the whole city with everyone talking regularly. Young people, youth workers and the police used to have misunderstandings. Now they understand each other better. Young people know more about the police’s role and how to interact with them.

Balthau mentioned that the pandemic also affected the relationship between young people and the police. It was a tough time for both groups. Some young people living in small homes didn’t always follow the rules leading to tension with the police. The pandemic highlighted the strained relationship that already existed.

During checks things can get tricky. Young people sometimes feel they’re not treated well and want more explanation during checks to feel comfortable cooperating. On the other hand the police feel young people in groups can act hostile during checks. When young people have to go to the police station, they might feel scared. If youth workers and officers know each other better it can help solve many issues.

How Balthau’s legal case and suggestions aim to improve relationships between young people, the police, and the wider community?

Balthau, a jeweler from Oostakker near Ghent was in a legal case where he was first found guilty of manslaughter but later cleared of charges on appeal. The case was about an incident in his jewelry store where he shot and killed a man who was armed. This incident raised discussions about self-defense laws and using force to protect property. His acquittal on appeal led to a reconsideration of the rules for such situations, pushing for faster resolutions in cases involving self-defense.

Balthau is saying it’s crucial for young people to know their rights and duties. When they understand these well it helps the police too. Young people should also know how to make a complaint and what happens next. This clearer process can reduce tension and show young people that the police can assist them too. By making things clearer issues can be sorted out faster. Balthau suggests expanding the teamwork between youth workers and the police to schools to reach more young people. A similar idea could also be applied in the wider community to improve relationships between the homeless and the police.

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Sarhan Basem is Brussels Morning's Senior Correspondent to the European Parliament. With a Bachelor's degree in English Literature, Sarhan brings a unique blend of linguistic finesse and analytical prowess to his reporting. Specializing in foreign affairs, human rights, civil liberties, and security issues, he delves deep into the intricacies of global politics to provide insightful commentary and in-depth coverage. Beyond the world of journalism, Sarhan is an avid traveler, exploring new cultures and cuisines, and enjoys unwinding with a good book or indulging in outdoor adventures whenever possible.