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France launches online police complaints form

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France launches online police complaints form
"But who will police the police?" French Interior Minister Manuel Valls meets and inspects CRS riot police in Paris. Civilians can now report police misdeeds online. Photo: Thomas Coex/AFP
11:00 CEST+02:00
France's “police of the police” made it easier on Monday for civilians to report any cases of the "boys in blue" behaving badly by launching a new online complaints form. The public, however, has been warned that any false reports come with a possible five-year prison sentence.

The IGPN (Inspectorate-General of the National Police), which is responsible for “policing the police,” launched the online form on Monday, which will allow members of the public to report police misdeeds or abuses of power over the internet.

“If you believe you have been a victim of or a witness to behaviour that is liable to call into question members of the police force, this form allows you to report it,” says the website of the IGPN.

“Your statement, which does not constitute a [formal] complaint, will be dealt with as soon as possible,” the website continues.

The goal, according to French Interior Minister Manuel Valls, is to bring France’s police and its people closer together, and makes the forces of law and order “more transparent.”

Previously, police complaints were processed by the IGS (Inspectorate-General of the Services) in the Paris area, and the IGPN for the Paris suburbs and the rest of the county.

As of Monday, those procedures will be streamlined, as IGPN boss Marie-France Monéger told TF1 television.

“This platform isn’t intended to deal with the most serious [abuses], but to better organize [complaints],” she said.

“It’s also a way for us to find out what users won’t put up with from the police,” she added.

The new process has one important condition – the absence of anonymity.

Along with the details of the incident in question, users are required to leave their full name, address, phone number, and date and place of birth.

The IGPN website also warns potential trouble-makers that “any false statement will be systematically forwarded to judicial authorities” and could land you with a five-year prison sentence and €45,000 fine.

Nonetheless, the signs are that those processing the newly-reported police misconduct may have their hands full.

Under the old system, where only the Paris-area IGS were accessible to the public, and only by mail, there were some 2,700 complaints made against police officers in 2012 alone.

Interior Minister Valls has made relations between police and civilians something of a priority, and Monday’s new measure comes just two weeks after an outrage over a video showing a police officer beating and spraying tear gas in the faces of two women in central France.

Valls reacted at the time, saying: "There is no place in the police for violence, or views that have no accordance with the ideals of a republican police force."

"The police should be beyond reproach, and the vast majority of police officers do a difficult and remarkable job," he added.

In July, The Local reported how an alleged altercation between a police officer and a woman wearing the full-face Muslim veil, which is illegal in France, sparked two days of riots centred on the police station in the Paris suburb of Trappes.

Anyone with a genuine complaint to make against French police officers can do so using  the new IGPN form, found here.

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