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France

Auditors slam Sarkozy policing policy

Reuters/Charles Platiau
1 min

The French government has hit back at state auditors for criticising its policing policies. A report by the auditing body, the Cour des comptes, criticises the presentation of crime statistics, the distribution of police around the country and the way police are paid.

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Interior Minister Claude Guéant reacted angrily, dubbing the report an unjustified attack on the security measures taken by the right-wing government since 2002.

President Nicolas Sarkozy, a former interior minister, campaigned heavily on security issues during his election campaign and his UMP party regards it as a key policy issue.

But the 250-page report, based on investigations in about 50 French cities,
reveals overspending and mismanagement of the government’s policing budget since the government was first formed.

The way police are paid often makes it difficult to accumulate overtime hours, it says, and questions whether statistics showing a fall in crime are valid.

And wealthy towns with low crime rates often have heavier policing and more resources than high-crime areas, it points out. Several parts of the Paris region have fewer than one police officer per 500 inhabitants, for example, while low-crime towns, such as Mende in the Cévennes or Privas in the Ardèche, have one per 200.

The report also questions whether the rapid implementation of extensive videosurveilance systems is cost effective.

The opposition – from the far-right Front National to the left-leaning Socialists – have interpreted the report as a criticism of Sarkozy’s security policies.

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