Police stand guard near a burned police vehicle (R) and a van in Viry-Chatillon on October 8, 2016 after police in their patrol car were attacked by individuals who launched Molotov cocktails, leaving two officers injured. © Thomas Samson / AFP
France has no-go zones where police can’t intervene and work safely, police unions say, adding that criminals are under no law there and can attack citizens. This contradicts the words of French PM Manuel Valls, who said there are only “difficult areas.”
“Of course there are no-go zones in France where the police cannot intervene and do their jobs in safety,” Denis Jacob from the union Alternative police-CFDT told The Local. “And it’s the same for fire fighters or pretty much any representative of the state.”
Jacob added that in these ‘no-go’ areas, “police can’t apply the law, 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… A section of the population has no respect for the police or the state anymore,” said Jacob.
A failed state
According to Jacob, this is not entirely due to the current French government headed by President Francois Hollande, but is a problem “with all French governments over the last 20 years.”
“Governments will never admit there are no-go zones because it’s a sign of a failed state,” he said.
After the recent attack in Viry-Châtillon commune, where several officers were attacked with fire bombs by at least 15 individuals, scores of riot police were sent to the area. The move, however, won’t solve anything, said Jacob.
“When it calms down the riot police will go and when they do, things will just return to how they were. The government needs to reinvest in permanent local police forces,” he said.
On its website, Alternative police-CFDT calls the attack on the officers “neither crime, nor violence, but terrorism!”
Jacob’s words echo a statement by Nicolas Comte, a spokesman for France’s second-biggest police union, Unité SGP Police.
On Monday, he said that “despite all the reassurances, there are still no-go zones in France ruled by a handful of gangs of criminals who get more and more radical as the years go by,” he said, as cited by Reuters.
Four police officers were injured when their cars were set ablaze in the troubled Paris working class housing estate Grande Borne in Viry-Châtillon, the southern suburbs of Paris on Saturday. One of them is still described as being “between life and death,” according to police officials. Since the attack, no one has been arrested in connection to the incident.
The statements from the police unions come after French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said on Monday that “there are no no-go areas” in France, but there are “particularly difficult areas.”
“These individuals [who attacked officers in Viry-Châtillon] will be found, brought to justice and severely punished because when we attack the police, we attack France itself,” said the PM.
On Sunday, the National Observatory of Delinquency and Criminal Responses released a report, saying that the number of police officers injured in violent attacks rose by 25 percent in 2015 in comparison to 2014, French media reported.
According to the document, at least 5,674 police officers were injured while on duty in 2015, while in 2010, the number stood at 4,535. In addition, the number of injured gendarmes, who are considered part of the French Armed Forces, jumped to 1,807 in 2015, compared to 1,408 in 2010.