France sees huge rise in number of times police resort to using their guns

Figures made public for the first time have revealed a huge rise in the number of times police in France resort to opening fire with their service weapon. Some 14 people have been killed by police fire in the last year and around 100 injured.

France sees huge rise in number of times police resort to using their guns

The figures, which have never before been made public, were released by the General Inspectorate of the French police (IGPN) dubbed “the police of the police” in a move to appear more transparent.

They revealed that between July 2017 and May 2018 14 people have been killed and around 100 injured by bullets fired from police weapons.

Those killed include terrorists who had staged attacks such as the jihadist who killed who students at Marseille train station and the jihadist who went on a knife rampage in the Opera area of Paris in May before being shot dead by police.

According to the IGPN the number of times police use their service weapons rose by 54 percent in 2017.

In all, police firearms were used 394 times between 2016 and 2017.

Most cases were police officers firing their hand guns that they carry on them at all times, and many cases were linked to drivers refusing to comply with a police stop.

Among France's gendarmes, military police who mainly patrol rural areas around France, the rise in the use of fire arms was 15 percent. The number of violent attacks against gendarmes have risen by 68 percent in the last year.

The figures have been revealed during a climate that has seen police protest against the rising violence they face on the ground whilst officers have also come under scrutiny for violence towards suspects, several incidents of which were caught on camera and posted online, creating yet further anger.

The IGPN revealed that the number of investigations opened against police officers accused of violence rose to 574 in 2017 compared to 543 in 2016.

Marie-France Monéger-Guyomarc'h from the IGPN said each case where a policeman has opened fire was followed by an internal investigation.

In February 2017 the previous French government passed a law that widened the definition of “legitimate defense” which effectively made it easier for police officers to use their guns without being punished.

The move was designed to help police respond more effectively to terror attacks.

The spate of terror attacks in 2015 also saw police forces in rural towns across France move to arm themselves. Municipal police forces which police small towns had been able to decide for themselves whether or not to carry arms, but were positively encouraged to do so after the November 2015 attack in Paris.

READ ALSO: Five things to know about guns and firearms laws in France




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Two mountaineers killed and 9 injured in ice fall in Swiss mountains

A Frenchwoman and a Spaniard were killed and nine other mountaineers were injured on Friday in an ice fall in southwest Switzerland, police said following a rescue attempt involving several helicopters.

Two mountaineers killed and 9 injured in ice fall in Swiss mountains

Police received calls at 6.20 am reporting that mountaineers had been caught up in falling seracs — columns of glacial ice formed by crevasses — on the Grand Combin, a glacial massif near the Italian border in the Wallis region.

Seven helicopters with mountain rescue experts flew to the scene, finding 17 mountaineers split among several groups.

“Two people died at the scene of the accident,” Wallis police said in a statement. They were a 40-year-old Frenchwoman and a 65-year-old man from Spain.

Nine mountaineers were airlifted to hospitals in nearby Sion and in Lausanne. Two of them are seriously injured, police said.

Other mountaineers were evacuated by helicopter.

The regional public prosecutor has opened an investigation “to determine the circumstances of this event”, the police said.

The serac fall happened at an altitude of 3,400 metres in the Plateau de Dejeuner section along the Voie du Gardien ascent route.

The Grand Combin massif has three summits above 4,000 metres, the highest of which is the Combin de Grafeneire at 4,314 metres.

The police issued a note of caution about setting off on such high-altitude expeditions.

“When the zero-degree-Celsius isotherm is around 4,000 metres above sea level, it is better to be extra careful or not attempt the route if in doubt,” Wallis police said.

“The golden rule is to find out beforehand from the mountain guides about the chosen route and its current feasibility.”