The recruitment campaign for the new Port Security Corps in Antwerp has seen a high number of dropouts, with only six candidates actually starting the training so far. Many candidates were unaware that a past drug conviction would make them ineligible for the position. Despite the initial success of attracting around 300 candidates, there is a significant gap between nominations and suitability. The federal police expects that only 8 to 10 percent of all candidates will ultimately be able to begin the training, highlighting the need for continued recruitment efforts. The creation of the Port Security Corps is a politically sensitive issue, as it was initiated in response to calls for increased protection against drug violence and trafficking in the port area.
In the investigation for seventy members for the new Port Security Corps at the federal police, which is to tackle drug crime in the port of Antwerp, many candidates drop out prematurely. “Some didn’t realize that a drug conviction makes them unfit.” So far, only six candidates have actually started the training.
Since the impressive recruitment campaign for the new Port Security Corps started at the beginning of May, some three hundred candidates have already registered with the federal police. It is called “an unexpected success”, because the police held their hearts. After all, Antwerp is known as one of the most difficult regions to recruit new employees.
But in the meantime it has become clear that there is a deep gap between being nominated and being considered suitable. In reality, about ninety percent of the candidates drop out prematurely or fail the entrance tests. According to the federal police, only 19 candidates have currently completed the selection procedure. When the first planned training started at the police academy at the beginning of August, there were only six candidates for the Port Security Corps in the classrooms.
Barely ten percent remains
According to our information, almost half of the candidates dropped out before they could properly start the entrance tests. They suddenly turned out not to show up, for no apparent reason. They had changed their minds. They shied away from the idea of having to work weekends as well. Or they turned out not to have a very clean past during the morality investigation. Candidates appeared who had been convicted of theft or drug offenses in the past. “Some didn’t even realize they were ineligible because of it,” it sounds.
The federal police expects that ultimately 8 to 10 percent of all candidates will be able to start the training. So about thirty, of the 300 candidates so far. This means that the recruitment campaign must continue to run at full speed. At least four hundred additional candidates have to be found. The positive news is that the success rates within the program itself are approaching 100 percent.
According to the spokesman for the federal police, it is in any case the intention to prepare all seventy members for the Antwerp Port Security Corps by May next year. Until then, other federal police security officers will be seconded to the port.
Success is politically sensitive. The decision to set up a special port security team was taken by the government at the beginning of this year, partly after the emotional cry for help from Antwerp mayor Bart De Wever (N-VA) to send the army to the port. The team must ensure that the port area is better protected against drug violence and trafficking. According to the federal police, this approach is also successful: “In the first seven months of this year, 107 drug-related arrests were made in the Antwerp port area, thanks in part to the visible efforts of these security officers”.