French President Emmanuel Macron unveiled a plan to bolster France’s domestic security on Wednesday during a speech to police forces at the presidential Elysée Palace.
Speaking in front of 500 people, including police and gendarmerie commanders, Macron aimed to boost morale amongst France’s internal security forces, which have been strongly mobilised since the 2015 Paris terror attacks.
Macron began by paying tribute to the security forces and their “daily acts of heroism”, pointing out that since the start of 2017, intelligence and security services had thwarted 13 terror attacks. Bruno Cautres a politics researcher at Sciences-Po, noted in an interview with FRANCE 24 that Macron used “many positive adjectives” about the police, gendarmerie and army, in a speech that paid “a clear tribute to the security forces”.
After observing that “there are now multiple forms of danger”, Macron went on to propose a raft of measures while also subtly linking internal security to both external security and immigration.
10,000 extra police and gendarmerie
A key announcement was to employ 10,000 extra police and gendarmes. He also promised to give them more technology to use in operations. “Our challenge in the smartphone era is to give law enforcement appropriate digital tools.”
“That was clearly the [agenda]: to explain to the French that because of the new forms of terrorism, the missions of the security and police forces have been changed,” Cautres told FRANCE 24.
“Macron has used the same rhetoric that he’s using for economic policies, which is also efficiency, to make it more adapted to realities,” the politics researcher also observed.
That is while Macron reminded France’s security forces of the need for exemplary conduct. “Any failure must be noted and sanctioned,” he said.
Strengthening police protection
Macron also said he wanted to “tighten” the country’s response to “cowardly and intolerable” threats to police and gendarmes. “As well as threats and physical intimidation, there are now more indirect threats, including against their relatives,” Macron lamented.
“I wish we could go further” than members of the security forces’ right to anonymity, Macron said.
Macron also said that the “daily security” police force (PSQ) that he intends to put in place is different from the similar force created by then prime minister Lionel Jospin in 1998 and abolished by then interior minister Nicolas Sarkozy five years later.
Meanwhile, Macron said that the consultation on the PSQ will start on October 23, and that the force will begin work at the start of 2018.
New national counter-radicalisation plan
The French president announced that he will convene a committee of numerous ministers across different government departments, which will “draw up a new national plan” against radicalisation, while drawing up a list of specific places to monitor.
“The heads of police constabularies will set up action plans for their own areas” involving “many other state services” to “prevent threats and set up organisations to identify what kind of behaviour suggests the biggest risk of radicalisation”, in “close co-operation” with magistrates, said Macron. He also said that he wants “to prevent terrorism from the youngest age”.
Tough action on non-French citizens without residence permits
Emmanuel Macron also called for “uncompromisingly sending back” people from abroad with “no legal right” to stay, while accepting “refugees and people in good standing”.
“We don’t welcome people well, our procedures are too long, we don’t integrate people properly and neither do we send enough people back,” he said, while repeating former prime minister Michel Rocard’s axiom that: “We should take our fair share, but we can’t just welcome in all the world’s poor people.”
Moreover, Macron complained that there are “several weeks of delays before asylum procedures for migrants actually start”.
Not referring the anti-terror law to France’s Constitutional Council
With France’s Senate voting through the controversial anti-terrorism law that will put an end to the country’s state of emergency on 1 November, Macron said that he would not refer the decision to the Constitutional Council, even though many in France fear that the legislation will trample on civil liberties.