French police to get new cars and uniforms as Emmanuel Macron unveils “radical” reform of the force

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Available early next year, the new kit would help embody the “renewal of the French police and the consideration we owe you”.

Over the past year, a series of violent incidents in which officers have been accused of misconduct, brutality and racism, have led to calls for a force overhaul. There was particular outrage when four police officers were filmed beating and insulting racist Michel Zecler, a black music producer for more than ten minutes in his studio in central Paris.

Seen tens of millions of times online, Mr Macron was forced to condemn an ​​”unacceptable attack” that “shames us”.

On Tuesday, he said that while complaints against the police represented only a tiny proportion of those forwarded to the French human rights ombudsperson, more could be done.

Insisting that the French police had “nothing to fear from transparency,” Macron pledged to set up a parliamentary oversight body to tackle the allegations of police brutality that have plagued the force in recent months .

The French “police force”, the Inspectorate General of the National Police (IGPN), is considered by many to be toothless compared to Her Majesty’s Police Inspectorate in the United Kingdom and insufficiently impartial because its boss is directly appointed by the Minister of the Interior, the intransigent Gérald Darmanin. It currently has no equivalent to the Independent Police Conduct Office.

The French president has pledged to double the number of officers and gendarmes on the beat by 2030, saying: “We need more blue in the streets”.

He also pledged to at least one body camera per police patrol this fall and to equip all police officers and cars with cameras by 2023. The French Interior Ministry would see its budget increase by 1.5 billion dollars. euros next year.

Police training would be extended and a special police academy would be created in Paris to train officers to deal with demonstrations such as the “yellow vests” revolt in which dozens of demonstrators were mutilated by stun grenades .

The president also pledged to dramatically simplify police procedures and introduce an online complaints system next year.

The eminent criminologist Sébastien Roché of the National Center for Scientific Research (CRNS) described the proposals as “very timid compared to what is in place in Great Britain”.

“But while there is a continuing denial of the problems of racism and violence, more than 20 years after the UK and 30 years after Germany, we may be at the start of a new cycle. Macron minimizes the problems but at least recognizes them. It’s a beginning.”


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