Two months ago we referred to Belgian crime statistics, stating that Belgium had a higher murder and manslaughter rate than the United States. It has been pointed out to us that the Belgian and American statistics cannot be compared, since Belgium includes attempted crimes in its crime records, while America does not
Indeed, when taking a second look at the statistics we see that it explicitely says “Voltooide misdrijven en pogingen” (Concluded crimes and attempts). This is something we had not seen before, but neither had others referring to the same statistics. We dare not suggest that the remark about the inclusion of the attempts in the statistics has been added by the authorities after we posted our piece on 5 July. Hence, we apologize to our readers.
Still, we wonder why the Belgian government provides its 10 million citizens with statistics that amalgamate actual crimes and crime attempts. What is the use of figures stating, e.g., that in 2005 there were 19,935 cases of drug possessions [including attempts], 2,632 rape cases [including attempts], 81,140 cases of vandalism [including attempts], 5,053 cases of arson [including attempts], 67,002 instances of “opzettelijke slagen en verwondingen” (“deliberate beatings and beatings with injuries,” i. e. aggravated assault) [including attempts], and 910 instances of murder and manslaughter [including attempts]?
And how do the Belgian authorities define attempts? How do they decide, if confronted with a “murder or manslaughter attempt,” whether to register it in the “murder and manslaughter” category, or in the “deliberate beatings and beatings with injuries” category?