Forensic Psychiatric Care in Belgium

  • Kevin PesoutEmail author
  • Thierry Pham


Belgium has always had a special tradition in forensic care. Some public institutions have always been drawn to the special population of forensic patients, going as far back as the nineteenth century.

In 1930 the Belgian government approved a law to ‘protect society against criminal behavior’. Since then, severely mentally disturbed people, who have committed criminal acts, have not got punished for their criminal acts but are declared criminally insane. This law has been the basis for the regulation of forensic psychiatric care for a long time but underwent a major reform starting in 2007. A new law was eventually adopted in 2016.

In addition to the reform of the law, the Belgian government invested greatly in the development in forensic psychiatric care. Starting in the late 1990s, different initiatives have been undertaken to provide internees with the necessary care. Both forensic and general psychiatric facilities have been upgraded with the intention to create a forensic psychiatric care trajectory.

Today, (almost) all of the ingredients are present as single initiatives. Future efforts will focus on the coherence of those initiatives to provide a structured forensic trajectory.


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Forensische zorg, RekemLanakenBelgium
  2. 2.Faculty of Psychology and Education SciencesUniversity MonsMonsBelgium
  3. 3.Centre de Recherche en Défense SocialeTournaiBelgium

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