Police numbers rise 10% as force grapples with rising crime
The number of police officers in Luxembourg rose by almost 10% last year as the force responded to a surge in crime and the "return of professional criminal gangs" from abroad, according to the police's latest annual report.
During 2021, a year marked by anti-vaccine protests, increased cybercrime, and the rise of violent robberies in the capital’s Gare district, the police’s total budget rose by just over 8% from 2020, while the number of officers increased by 9%.
Although there was a drop in some forms of crime, with drug cases down by 18% and domestic abuse offences decreasing by nearly 3%, there were sharp rises in reports of other offences, particularly financial crime, throughout 2021.
Officers tasked with investigating offences such as fraud, banking crime and forgery handled 246 cases last year, an increase of almost 90% on 2020, the force said.
“The cybercrime unit is increasingly confronted with scams related to virtual currencies,” said the police report.
The rise in cybercrime in Luxembourg reflects the general trend across Europe, with cybersecurity incidents in EU bodies increasing more than tenfold between 2018 and 2021, the European Court of Auditors reported in March.
There was a spike in the theft of bicycles, reports of which rose by more than a third in 2021, while there was a 20% increase in robberies, the report said.
“While local criminals, from the drug scene and the homeless community, continued to be particularly active, we also noticed a return of professional criminal gangs operating from abroad,” the section on burglaries and robberies noted.
There were 24 investigations launched relating to scams specific to the Covid-19 pandemic, including the sale of masks and fake vaccine certificates.
The Grand Duchy’s border authorities seized more illegal drugs last year, with the volume of potentially deadly heroin increasing by a third over 2020, Luxembourg’s Customs and Excise Agency (ADA) reported in March.
Luxembourg City is planning on hiring private security agents once again to patrol areas of the capital, Mayor Lydie Polfer said in June, less than a year after they were withdrawn from the Gare area. The agents were first hired two years ago, following protests by residents calling for greater action to tackle what they said were increased levels of crime and drug dealing.
The country will hire an additional 1,000 police officers over the next five years, Internal Security Minister Henri Kox - who has strongly opposed the deployment of private security agents - said at the end of last year.