French police riled over '27-hour week' charge

27th January 2005, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Jan 27 (AFP) - A report saying French police work an average of only27 hours a week sparked anger among officers and their unions Thursday who claimed the finding was "partial" and gave the impression they were lazy.

PARIS, Jan 27 (AFP) - A report saying French police work an average of only27 hours a week sparked anger among officers and their unions Thursday who claimed the finding was "partial" and gave the impression they were lazy.

The newspaper Le Figaro splashed the report across its front page with a graphic showing that, in an average week, a police officer spent 17 hours in a station, nine hours on the street, one hour on other duties (court testimony, guarding hospitalised prisoners) - and more than 13 hours on sick leave or vacation.

The figures, gleaned from data from the police force's own computer records, revealed that "at least 18 police officers are needed to ensure a street presence (in just one spot or on one beat) each 24-hour day," the newspaper said.

When France cut the working week for most employees to 35 hours in 2000, a special provision for police required them to work a minimum 39 hours with the difference made up for with extra pay or vacation time, Le Figaro noted.

Police unions said they were "shocked" by the report and called it a press campaign against them started by President Jacques Chirac's conservative government, which is chipping away at the 35-hour week brought in under the previous Socialist administration.

The report was "scandalous" and based on erroneous interpretation of statistics, the biggest union, Alliance, said, adding: "It leads one to think ... that policemen are lazy."

The head of the national police force, Michel Gaudin, said Le Figaro's inferences were "incorrect, unfair and malicious" and that they "insult the reputation of the national police and the sense of duty of its officers."

The numbers did not take into account investigations, surveillance operations and forensic work, he said, and stressed that police were expected to work Sundays, public holidays and nights.

Gaudin noted that 9,000 police officers - around 10 percent of those assigned to patrols and guard duties - were injured in the line of duty last year, the period over which the statistics were gathered.

Interior Minister Dominique de Villepin, who is responsible for the national police, also criticised Le Figaro's report, saying it was part of a "malicious campaign" designed to divide and stigmatise the force.

"Police officers, we are proud of you," he said in a statement in which he hailed a general decrease in crime statistics.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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