The development of the private security industry in Belgium (1907-1990). A historical-criminological perspective on contemporary changes in security and crime control.

Project Details


Within the broader framework of historical and contemporary changes in security and crime control, this research project examines the development of the Belgian private security industry from 1907 until 1990. Exploratory research on the subject has revealed fundamental transformations in the field of security, crime control and policing at the onset of the 20th century. For a better criminological understanding of current changes in security in general and crime control and policing in particular, this project is extremely relevant. Three research hypotheses are central: Firstly, we sketch out how the private security industry generally developed throughout the 20th century against the background of a Belgian security complex, aimed primarily at consolidating the established socio-political order. In addition, we examine how changing societal demands for security shaped the expansion of tasks, activities and functions of this private security industry in Belgium. Finally, we aim to challenge the alleged historical discontinuity in private initiatives in surveillance and protection, and reveal the explanatory value of the historical perspective for the present-day governance of policing. The empirical research draws on a wide array of historical documents from judicial (police) archives, archives of individual private security companies, and local public police archives. Quantitative processing of the data is combined with in-depth qualitative analysis of the records.
Effective start/end date1/01/1531/12/18


  • Sentencing
  • Pre-Trial Detention
  • Community Policing
  • Criminal Policy
  • Restorative Justice
  • Criminal Law
  • Prison Systems
  • Juvenile Justice
  • Economic Criminality
  • Criminal Procedure

Flemish discipline codes

  • Comparative law