French police slammed over all-white numbers

14th December 2004, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Dec 14 (AFP) - An official report presented to the French interior ministry Tuesday reveals disturbingly low levels of police recruitment among the country's Arab and black minorities and calls for urgent action to boost numbers in the years ahead.

PARIS, Dec 14 (AFP) - An official report presented to the French interior ministry Tuesday reveals disturbingly low levels of police recruitment among the country's Arab and black minorities and calls for urgent action to boost numbers in the years ahead.

Of France's 14,400 police officers only 300 are of Arab or African origin and of 1,800 superintendents only around 10 are, according to the report compiled by writer Azouz Begag.

The figure was higher among 11,000 "security assistants" who help police in their duties. Between five and 15 percent of these are from the concerned minorities, the report found.

More than 10 percent of the French population - some six million people - are of north or sub-Saharan African origin, and their over-representation in crime and unemployment figures is seen as France's most pressing social problem.

In the report entitled "A Republic with Open Skies," Begag says the policies of successive governments have resulted in a profound sense of exclusion among the minorities, most of whom live in depressing high-rise apartment buildings on the outside of major towns.

"A veil of bitterness has sown scepticism and disillusionment," he says.

Counselling against a policy of "positive discrimination," Begag instead urges a "targeted campaign to search out recruits on the ground. ... It will take time for the young to recognise themselves in this mission of public service which is the police."

According to Begag, the number of immigrant officers should be "tripled in the two or three years to come."

To encourage recruitment, black and Arab officers should sit as a matter of course on admissions boards, and selection procedures should be adapted to avoid "culturally specific" questions, the report said.

It also recommended the establishment of "anti-discrimination brigades" at police stations in order to break the commonly held view that officers are hostile to racial minorities.

Members of the brigades would intervene immediately to stop or record acts of racial discrimination - for example at the entrance to nightclubs where many black and Arab people say they are routinely excluded.

Interior Minister Dominique de Villepin was expected to adopt some of the report's recommendations, in particular extending the role of so-called "republican cadets" - young people who train part-time with the police in conjunction with their studies.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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