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French police ‘in crisis’ due to strain of working conditions

France's police force is "in crisis" due to the combined strain of terror attacks, the migrant crisis and terrible working conditions, a new report reveals.

French police 'in crisis' due to strain of working conditions
Photo: AFP
A six-month investigation by a senate committee into the state of the country's internal security forces including the police and gendarmes has made some shocking discoveries. 
 
According to the report, the police force in France faces terrible working conditions including gruelling hours as it is more in demand than ever due to terror attacks and the migrant crisis. 
 
The report states that police have to work irregular schedules and only get one weekend out of five off. 
 
And while a new vacation cycle which would mean police officers would only have to work every other weekend is currently being tested, this would require an increase of between 16 and 33 percent in the number of officers, the investigation revealed. 
 
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French police launch photo 'competition' to show anger over working conditionsPhoto: AFP

According to the senators, 3,000 to 4,000 additional police officers are needed to improve the situation.
 
Another of the report's discoveries is that there are 22 million hours of police overtime that remain uncompensated and it claims that if these hours were to be paid it would cost a whopping 272.1 million euros. 
 
On top of that police equipment is as worn out as the policeman themselves, with 10 percent of police vehicles or 3,400 vehicles, having carried out more than ten years of service. 
 
This means that on some police cars basic functions such as sirens no longer work “which may compromise the safety of interventions” according to the report. 
 
Many police stations are dilapidated and unsafe to work in and as administrative demands increase they are forced to deal with old-fashioned computer equipment. 
 
And they are also having to deal with a rise in attacks directly targeting French police in recent years. 
 
“A new type of aggression appeared in recent years, clearly intended to cause physical harm to the police, even to kill,” said one of the directors of France's riot police, the CRS .
 
It is believed that the stress created by this environment is partly to blame for the devastatingly high suicide rate among police which is 36 percent higher than the rest of the population. 
 
Paris: French police evacuate 1,200 migrants from last camps
Photo: AFP
 
Around 2,600 judicial police officers resigned in 2017 due to the strain of the work. 
 
The only positive point to come out of the presentation of the report held on Tuesday was that €150.8 million has been invested into the police equipment budget in 2018 (for everything aside from computers) and €2,000 will be spent on the equipment of each policeman.
 
As a result, 60 percent of police officers have received a new bulletproof vest.

 
“There is a great danger for the Republic to give the impression that one neglects its internal security,” president of the investigation, socialist senator Michel Boutant told Le Figaro. “We are witnessing a moral exhaustion, especially in the police.”
 
“The time for reform has now come, this report must not go unheeded,” said police force Alternative Police. “The Ministry of the Interior has made the running of the police too academic and it is disconnected from the field. It is imperative to change today's paradigm.”
 
The union went on to say that this would require steps such as a reform of the way the police are organised and a change in the chain of command and training.”

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POLICE

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.”

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