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POLICE

Paris creates new police force to tackle litter, noise and parking

A total of 154 municipal police officers began patrolling the streets of Paris on Tuesday - marking the first time the capital has had a local force to focus on low-level but annoying problems such as noise, litter and bad parking.

Municipal police officers attend their official presentation ceremony  in front of Paris City Hall.
Municipal police officers attend their official presentation ceremony in front of Paris City Hall. Photo: Thomas SAMSON / AFP.

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo presented the first intake of Police Municipale (Municipal Police) officers during a ceremony at City Hall on Monday, October 18th.

Most larger French towns and cities already have a locally-led municipal police force, who focus on offences such as anti-social behaviour and traffic offences, but Paris has long been the exception.

For many years, Hidalgo was opposed to the idea, but in January 2019, she announced her intention to create a Municipal Police force in the capital, ending an exception which dates back to 1800. Hidalgo said the new force “will be totally ready in 2024 to welcome the entire world to Paris for the Olympic and Paralympic games”.

The new officers will be present across the 20 arrondissements, will patrol the city on foot or on bicycles, and will be equipped with bulletproof jackets, body cameras, batons and tear gas – but will not be armed.

The lack of lethal weapons has not been well-received by everybody in the city. “Having bulletproof jackets but nothing to defend themselves with is anachronistic and rather illogical,” Geoffroy Boulard, mayor of the 17th arrondissement, told Europe 1.

It is up to local authorities to decide whether the Municipal Police should be armed – just over half of officers across the country carry a firearm.

What is their job?

The 154 men and women will be responsible for four main areas, City Hall has said: “Ensure the cleanliness of the city, make sure Parisians are safe, protect pedestrians and the most vulnerable road users, pacify the city notably in the evening and during the night.”

Part of their role will be to respond to what are referred to in French as incivilités (incivility), including offences such as fly-tipping, throwing cigarette butts on the ground, noise disturbances, and traffic offences such as illegal parking.

They do have the power of arrest, but must deliver any arrested person to the Police Nationale (National Police).

The new officers will work alongside this existing force. Today, the National Police officers responsible for policing the capital report to the préfet de police de Paris, following a decision by Napoléon Bonaparte in 1800 to put the centralised state in charge of the city’s policing.

“A Municipal Police which does its job well will free up the National Police to concentrate on its principal missions: combating delinquency, drug trafficking and terrorism,” said Nicolas Nordman, deputy mayor in charge of security.

READ ALSO Gendarmes to policiers – who does what in the French police force?

In recent years, Paris had already begun taking on more responsibility for its own security, with the creation of the Direction de la prévention, de la sécurité et de la protection (Prevention, Security and Protection Authority). The 3,400 members of that authority will gradually be trained to become part of the Municipal Police.

By 2026, the city eventually hopes to have 5,000 people in charge of security, including 3,400 Municipal Police officers, adding to the 24,000 already in place in other cities across the country.

Police watchdog

“In order to better meet the expectations of Parisians, their police must be in their image,” Hidalgo said during the presentation on Monday.

This includes a focus on gender equality – almost 40 percent of the first intake are women – as well as focusing on the social backgrounds of officers, with a new training centre set to be created in Paris.

The Mayor also announced the creation of an “ethics committee” to ensure that officers do not abuse their powers.

Member comments

  1. I wonder if they will have the power to force dog owners to clear their dog’s mess from the street if they don’t do that voluntarily?

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READER INSIGHTS

‘Painful’ – is Paris Charles de Gaulle airport really that bad?

Following a survey that said Paris Charles de Gaulle airport was the best in Europe, we asked Local readers what they thought...

'Painful' - is Paris Charles de Gaulle airport really that bad?

Recently, Paris Charles de Gaulle was voted the best airport in Europe by passengers.

The 2022 World Airport Awards, based on customer satisfaction surveys between September 2021 and May 2022, listed the best airport on the planet as Doha, while Paris’s main airport came in at number 6 – the highest entry for a European airport – one place above Munich. 

READ ALSO Paris Charles de Gaulle voted best airport in Europe by passengers

Given CDG’s long-standing reputation doesn’t quite match what the World Airport Awards survey said – in 2009 it was rated the second-worst airport in the world, while in 2011 US site CNN judged it “the most hated airport in the world” – we wondered how accurate the survey could be.

So we asked readers of The Local for their opinion on their experience of Europe’s ‘best’ airport. 

Contrary to the World Airport Awards study, users erred towards the negative about the airport. A total 30.8 percent of Local readers – who had travelled through the airport in recent months – thought it was ‘terrible’, while another 33.3 percent agreed that it was ‘not great’ and had ‘some problems’.

But in total 12.8 percent of those who responded to our survey thought the airport was ‘brilliant’, and another 23.1 percent thought it ‘fine’, with ‘no major problems’.

So what are the problems with it?

Signage 

One respondent asked a simple – and obvious – question: “Why are there so many terminal twos?”

Barney Lehrer added: “They should change the terminal number system.”

In fact, signage and directions – not to mention the sheer size of the place – were common complaints, as were onward travel options. 

Christine Charaudeau told us: “The signage is terrible. I’ve often followed signs that led to nowhere. Thankfully, I speak French and am familiar with the airport but for first time travellers … yikes!”

Edwin Walley added that it was, “impossible to get from point A to point B,”  as he described the logistics at the airport as the “worst in the world”.

And James Patterson had a piece of advice taken from another airport. “The signage could be better – they could take a cue from Heathrow in that regard.”

Anthony Schofield said: “Arriving by car/taxi is painful due to congestion and the walk from the skytrain to baggage claim seems interminable.”

Border control

Border control, too, was a cause for complaint. “The wait at the frontière is shameful,” Linda, who preferred to use just her first name, told us. “I waited one and a half hours standing, with a lot of old people.”

Sharon Dubble agreed. She wrote: “The wait time to navigate passport control and customs is abysmal!”

Deborah Mur, too, bemoaned the issue of, “the long, long wait to pass border control in Terminal E, especially at 6am after an overnight flight.”

Beth Van Hulst, meanwhile, pulled no punches with her estimation of border staff and the airport in general. “[It] takes forever to go through immigration, and staff deserve their grumpy reputation. Also, queuing is very unclear and people get blocked because the airport layout is not well designed.”

Jeff VanderWolk highlighted the, “inadequate staffing of immigration counters and security checkpoints”, while Karel Prinsloo had no time for the brusque attitudes among security and border personnel. “Officers at customs are so rude. I once confronted the commander about their terrible behaviour.  His response said it all: ‘We are not here to be nice’. Also the security personnel.”

Connections

One of the most-complained-about aspects is one that is not actually within the airport’s control – public transport connections.  

Mahesh Chaturvedula was just one of those to wonder about integrated travel systems in France, noting problems with the reliability of onward RER rail services, and access to the RER network from the terminal.

The airport is connected to the city via RER B, one of the capital’s notoriously slow and crowded suburban trains. Although there are plans to create a new high-speed service to the airport, this now won’t begin until after the 2024 Olympics.

Sekhar also called for, “more frequent trains from SNCF to different cities across France with respect to the international flight schedules.”

The good news

But it wasn’t all bad news for the airport, 35 percent of survey respondents said the airport had more positives than negatives, while a Twitter poll of local readers came out in favour of Charles de Gaulle.

Conceding that the airport is “too spread out”, Jim Lockard said it, “generally operates well; [and has] decent amenities for food and shopping”.

Declan Murphy was one of a number of respondents to praise the, “good services and hotels in terminals”, while Dean Millar – who last passed through Charles de Gaulle in October – said the, “signage is very good. [It is] easy to find my way around”.

He added: “Considering the size (very large) [of the airport] it is very well done.  So no complaints at all.”

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