Nova Belgica is the result of a unique cooperation between Belgium and the Netherlands, in which Dutch prison capacity is used to (temporarily) house Belgian prisoners. To put this cooperation into practice, a special treaty was drawn up between the two governments, followed by a formal cooperation agreement.
As a result, the prison in Tilburg, the Netherlands, received the status of a branch (Flemish: bijhuis) of the prison in Wortel, Belgium. The prison in Tilburg is staffed by Dutch personnel, working under a Belgian executive officer. It houses Belgian prisoners exclusively. Transport from Tilburg to the main prison in Wortel and vice versa is also taken care of by the Dutch Prison Service. For this complete package the Belgium government pays an annual fee to the Dutch government. The cooperation is evaluated half-yearly, and so far both parties are very satisfied with it.
This is the first and only example in Europe, and maybe worldwide, in which two countries work together to have the prisoners from one country housed in the other. For this cooperation, complex legal problems had to be solved to create a Belgian prison environment on Dutch territory. Linguistic and cultural training for the prison staff in Tilburg was also needed, as Belgian prisoners differ from Dutch prisoners, both in terms of language and cultural behaviour.
Prison capacity is a very expensive commodity, difficult and time-consuming to create, and, apart from the social implications for the workforce, even more expensive to close down. The demand for prison capacity varies depending on the time, country, and administration. When a high demand for prison capacity is confronted with too few places, there is a danger of worsening prison conditions. Therefore, this type of inter-state cooperation is also in the interest of the prisoners themselves.
In terms of sustainability, this cooperation contributes to better and more efficient use of property which is already built. Getting out of the circle of creating and closing buildings means using fewer natural resources, producing less rubble and maintaining more environmental stability.
|Award category:||weathering the storm. creative solutions in a time of crisis - european and national level|
|Sector:||Justice, police, human rights and security|
|Type of activity:|
|Keywords:||International cooperation, prison, treaty|
|Short English description:||Nova Belgica is the result of a unique cooperation between Belgium and the Netherlands, in which Dutch prison capacity is used to (temporarily) house Belgian prisoners. To put this cooperation into practice, a special treaty was drawn up between the two governments, followed by a formal cooperation agreement.|
|Organisation:||Dutch Prison Service (DJI)|
|Level of government:||national level|
|Size of organisation:||>100|
|Number of people involved:||>15|
|EU membership:||EU member|