French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday announced that he wanted to double the presence of police officers and gendarmes on the ground in ten years in a major speech aimed at boosting police oversight following repeated allegations of brutality and racism in the force.
Speaking at the National Police School in Roubaix, in northern France, Macron said he wanted to set up some form of parliamentary oversight regarding the country’s police forces and the monitoring of their conduct.
“We must strive to be above reproach…When there are mistakes, they must be punished,” said Macron, adding that a parliamentary oversight body for the police forces was necessary.
Macron’s speech followed months of discussions with police on the theme of security and relations with the population.
The trigger for the consultations was a video showing four White officers beating up an unarmed Black music producer in his Paris studio in November last year.
The attack on Michel Zecler caused widespread outrage and amplified complaints by French Black Lives Matter activists about the rough tactics used against minorities, particularly Black and Arab men.
One of the key criticisms of policing in France is that the country does not have an independent police watchdog.
The Inspection Generale de la Police Nationale (IGPN), which currently hears complaints, is composed mostly of police officers and its head is appointed by the interior minister, who is in charge of the police.
In June 2020, thousands of French people took part in the global Black Lives Matter protests sparked by the death of Black American George Floyd at the hands of US police.
The protesters said Floyd’s death echoed incidents in France, where several people have died or been seriously injured in custody or while being arrested.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP)