Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Mine's a pint!

It's not a good time to be a policeman in France. First, after much pressure and many court cases the government has agreed to enforce the Human Rights Act in respect of the right to a fair trial meaning that from now on, anyone who is arrested has the right to have a lawyer present for the whole of the questioning process which will put a rather swift end to their usual methods of violence and intimidation. Followers of Spiral (Les Engrenages) which is currently showing on BBC4 probably thought the producers were using a bit of artistic licence in their portrayal of the treatment of prisoners but no, that's how it is.

In actual fact judges will still have the power to delay access to a lawyer for up to 72 hours to allow "for the collection or preservation of evidence or to prevent an attack on individuals"  in cases where the crime would be punishable by more than 5 years in prison. The organisation Human Rights Watch. more usually associated with places like Libya and Yemen. has a large dossier on human rights abuses in France and is lobbying the government to take the new regulations even further.  You can read more about the situation on the Fly in the Web's excellent blog.

Now, the CRS, the French riot police have been banned from drinking on duty. Up until now, they have been allowed to have up to 250ml of wine (equivalent to 3 units at 12% volume) or a small beer, served with a meal, but after photos appeared of them during the recent unrest swigging wine and beer straight from the bottle police chiefs have decided enough is enough.

Personally, I've always found the sight of a man with a gun in one hand and alcohol in the other rather disconcerting.  Alcohol, a loaded gun and unemployed, disenfranchised Muslim youths seems a recipe for disaster.  In the autumn and spring months our hillside became France's answer to Helmand with scores of men in hi-vis jackets marching around with rifles and mangy hunting dogs shooting anything with a heartbeat, including from time to time, each other. I would keep the children and animals in the house after lunch, knowing full well that a hearty meal had been washed down with liberal quantities of  gutrot and on more than one occasion I was confronted with a staggering man with a loaded gun and purple teeth.

According to research, 3 units of alcohol will give an increased feeling of happiness - not something traditionally associated with the CRS - but will significantly impair judgement which might lead, for example, pepper spraying children or indeed this , although I suppose you could argue that at least they would do it with a smile on their faces.

They plan to respond in true Gallic style by going on strike. Tchinn!

Mine's a pint!

9 comments:

Perpetua said...

Oooo, do you think they might have time now actually to respond when you report a problem to them, Wylye Girl? Our difficulty when we're in France is finding the local gendarmerie open at all. It always looks as tightly locked-up as Fort Knox!

Lou said...

A point well made.

A friend of ours (Brit) was removed from the rapid response gun unit after his wife gave birth to triplets..... wise move I'd say, there's only so much sleep depravation one can take...

I always imagined him, knackered, shouting in the street

'Stop or I'll shoot....I have to advise you I've got triplets and they don't sleep!'

Wylye Girl said...

Perpetua, I wouldn't hold your breath unless you have exceptionally large lungs. In 5 years I never saw ours open!

Lou,it makes sense doesn't it. You can't have anyone loose with a gun and impaired reactions. A few years ago a soldier in Carcassonne fired towards a crowd at an army open day. His rifle was supposed to be loaded with blanks. It wasn't! It was after lunch. Makes you wonder....

Jane and Lance Hattatt said...

Hello:
This is all quite extraordinary that anyone should, at any time, feel that it is acceptable for the police, or anyone else for that matter, to drink whilst on duty.

The Hungarian police are not generally seen to be a soft touch - far from it - but whilst they are permitted to smoke at all times we have never observed them with a drink whilst on duty [soft drinks apart].

Wylye Girl said...

Jane and Lance, I must admit I was amazed that they are allowed to drink on duty. No-one in charge of a firearm should have alcohol in their system IMHO

Steve said...

Poor Gene Hunt. He's not safe anywhere these days, is he?

Wylye Girl said...

Steve, it's a different world. Mind you, that's probably what he said too!

the fly in the web said...

Tried to comment earlier...but the CRS must have been in control of my computer!

Stopping their booze, if it follows what happened when the gendarmerie canteens were forced to serve only soft drinks, will do nothing to improve the hair trigger reactions of the CRS.
Locals reckoned that the gendarmerie only turned really nasty when forced to go on the fruit juice.

And if you want a French farce...try the new situation with the garde a vue (where after a traffic offense the cops haul you in, strip you naked and search your rectum and...should you have one...vagina).
The law coming into force on June 1st is the latest French effort to get round the provisions of the European Convention on Human Rights regarding a fair trial...that is, you might have the right to have a lawyer present at your interrogation, but the lawyer can't see the dossier assembled by the police.
Until June 1st, the situation is as outlined by the Cour de cassation...on of the four Supreme Courts in France - any breach of the provisions of the Convention will result in the case being thrown out...so until midnight on May 31st you lawyer can see the dossier or you'll have no case to answer.
Fine.
Except the lawyers are on strike about not being paid for their attendance because the law providing for payment doesn't come into force until June 1st...
So it's waterboarding as usual...

Wylye Girl said...

Fly, I agree about the CRS. I don't think anything bar castration would make them any nicer. I don't know if you looked at the link but you have to wonder at anyone who would drag a woman along a pavement on her back while she has a baby strapped to it. As I understand it, even if the avocat is present,(s)he is not allowed to speak or ask questions until the interview is over. As ever, there seems to be more loopholes than a bit of my knitting. So much for civilised society.....

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