Like other modern-day democracies, Belgium has in the last quarter century introduced many changes in its system for justice administration, by undertaking judicial reforms and commissioning empirical research on public confidence. Following long years of fierce criticism of the police and the criminal justice system since the late 1980s, the turn of the century witnessed three quantitative surveys (the Justice Barometers) in 2002, 2007 and 2010. These were complemented by several qualitative studies in specific districts or with specific groups. Although many variables appear to exert some influence on public confidence, the one that emerges time and again is the degree of contact with the justice system and the ensuing negative perceptions that result from it. This contribution describes the most salient findings of this decade of public opinion research on the criminal justice system in Belgium and reflects on the implications for judicial policy-making.
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