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France orders police officers to be more polite

Sophie Inge · 4 Mar 2013, 08:47

Published: 04 Mar 2013 08:47 GMT+01:00

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According to France Info, the new code of ethics will forbid officers from using  the familiar "tu" form of the word "you". Instead, police will be required to address people - even youngsters - using the more formal and polite "vous" form.

Officers will also be required to address members of the pubic with the equivalent of the titles "sir" and "madam".

The code states that "Police and gendarmes serve the people."

It adds: "Their relationship with the public should be characterized by courtesy and exclude the use of 'tu'. Their behaviour should be exemplary in all circumstances and respect the dignity of others. 

"It should inspire respect and consideration."

The "tu" form of the word you in French is only really used between family and close friends or between young people. Young people, in turn, are expected to use "vous" when talking to adults. In formal situations, like exchanges between members of the public and shop staff, for example, "vous" should always be used.

French police have had a troubled relationship with certain elements of the public, in particular, the youths on France's tough housing estates. The death of two officers who crashed their car while chasing a fugitive earlier this month sparked concerns about diminishing levels of respect for the nation's law enforcers.

The new code was drawn up at the request of the Interior Minister Manuel Valls to “improve the relationship” between the police force and the general public."

Story continues below…

According to Valls, this relationship should be at the centre of police training.

Perhaps the most controversial section of the new code is a section which warns officers against stopping and searching people based on the colour of their skin.

“Identity checks should not be based on any physical characteristic or distinctive sign except in the case when the motive for stopping them is a specific physical description,” the report reads.   

Sophie Inge (sophie.inge@thelocal.com)

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