Trust in the police requires independent oversight

Editorial of the “World”. Emmanuel Macron closed, Tuesday, September 14, the Beauvau of security, a consultation with public security actors that he himself had launched in December 2020 to respond to the unease caused by the cases of police violence and the stormy demonstrations against the “global security” law. Its arbitrations are far from negligible: a programming law targeting new forms of delinquency, a reinforced presence of the police on the ground, an extension of 1.5 billion euros for the Ministry of the Interior in the budget 2022.

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In a crucial and politically sensitive area, on the other hand, the President of the Republic clearly lacked boldness and ambition: the “parliamentary control body of the police”, which he will propose the creation to the presidents. of the National Assembly and the Senate, does not meet the requirement to endow France with an authority to control the forces of order – police and gendarmerie – capable of restoring citizens’ confidence in the institutions whose reason to be is to protect them.

The “police force” criticized for its bias

The main issue was the transformation of the General Inspectorate of the National Police (IGPN), a body responsible for both administrative investigations targeting civil servants’ breaches of their obligations and ethics, and, upon referral to a prosecutor, judicial inquiries into criminal offenses involving police officers. Feared by the latter, the “police of the police” is criticized in the public for its laxity and its partiality, particularly in the files of police violence, where it is accused of privileging the protection of the corporation to that of the public. The emotion aroused, in November 2020, by the dissemination of a video showing Parisian police officers beating a music producer and uttering racist insults against him had led Mr. Macron to recognize: “There are police officers who are violent” and “That must be sanctioned”.

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The accusations which tend to assimilate the IGPN to a “washing machine with police smears” will not cease as long as the IGPN is placed under the tutelage of the director general of the national police force and that the police officers are charged to investigate others. police officers from the same corps as them. In this area affecting public freedoms, the heart of democracy, such an incestuous method can only fuel suspicion.

However, the “parliamentary control body” announced by Emmanuel Macron leaves the IGPN intact. At most, it should formalize the prerogative that parliamentarians have to exercise control over … the functioning of the IGPN itself, but not directly over its investigations. In this regard, the inability of the parliamentary intelligence delegation – which serves as a model – to analyze the flaws in the services specializing in the prevention of the 2015 terrorist attacks does not bode well.

However, there are models of control independent of the police institution, such as the British Independent Office for Police Conduct, directed by a person outside the institution and responsible for the most serious facts. The approach of a presidential campaign is probably not the best time to embark on such a path. Yet this is the one that should be explored to begin to bridge the gap between the French and the police officers in their service.

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