Controversy has spread in France following the latest attack on police officers who came under fire from a hail of Molotov cocktails. The incident, in which one officer was critically injured, occurred near the notorious housing estate of La Grande Borne in Viry-Châtillon, to the south of Paris.
As reported by The Local, the attack was used as ammunition by opposition politicians who claimed the government had allowed lawless areas to develop.
But French Prime Minister Manuel Valls, who was joined by Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve, said: “The authority of the state will be guaranteed. There are no no-go zones” before acknowledging that there are “particularly difficult areas”.
But police unions disagreed with the prime minister. In an interview with The Local, Denis Jacob from the union Alternative police-CFDT, said: “Of course there are no-go zones in France where the police cannot intervene and do their jobs in safety. And it’s the same for fire fighters or pretty much any representative of the state.”
“The police can’t apply the law in these areas, they are attacked. If the police can’t do their work it’s because there are criminals and delinquents who don’t respect the law,” he added.
Meanwhile, new statistics released on October 10 show the number of police and gendarmes (military police) injured while on duty rose by 25% between 2010 and 2015.
In 2015 some 5,674 police officers were injured in the line of duty compared to 4,535 back in 2010. For the gendarmes the rise was even more striking – 1,807 injuries in 2015 compared to 1,408 in 2010.
“I’ve been in the French national police for 30 years. When I started there were police working locally in local police stations, but these have been taken away,” said Jacob. “The police used to know all the young people in the area and would build up important intelligence on who were the criminals. The government needs to reinvest in permanent local police forces.”