French President Emmanuel Macron announces new crime-fighting plans

He has yet to officially declare his candidacy for the 2022 presidential election, but France's incumbent leader has announced a raft of new law-and-order policies designed to appeal to voters on the right.

French President Emmanuel Macron has vowed to take a number of measures to boost law and order in France.
French President Emmanuel Macron has vowed to take a number of measures to boost law and order in France. (Photo by Daniel Cole / POOL / AFP)

French President Emmanuel Macron proposed a range of tough new measures to tackle crime during a visit to Nice on Monday.

READ MORE French presidential runner Pécresse to ‘power wash’ crime-hit areas

Macron said he wanted to increase France’s interior security budget by €15 billion over a five-year period, amounting to a 25 percent increase on current spending. 

The French president has yet to declare his candidacy to be reelected at this year’s presidential election – although it is thought highly likely that he will run – but these politcies could only be voted on after the presidential race is complete in May.

He also proposed

  • automatically issuing fines to people who would otherwise be sentenced to less than one year in prison
  • adding a further 1,500 staff to the cybercrime force
  • tripling the fine for harassment in the street to €300
  • doubling the number of police on public transport
  • doubling the number of police in the streets. 

READ MORE Macron announces greater scrutiny of French police after racism and violence cases

Macron said that 10,000 new policing jobs had been created since the start of his presidency and that he would work to ensure that police and gendarmes would be freed from administrative tasks to allow them to spend more time patrolling the streets. 

He also announced that 200 gendarmerie brigades would be set up in the countryside to “bring tranquility back to the most rural areas.”

Macron also vowed to set up a “republican action force for the neighbourhoods”, by which he means deprived city suburbs. 

READ MORE Who’s who in the crowded field vying to unseat Macron in French presidential election? 

“In the most difficult neighbourhoods, [it] will allow us to deploy dedicated security forces over several months which will come to make the neighbourhood safer, aiming to dismantle the principle drug dealing points,” he said. 

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French Mediterranean resort’s far-right mayor bans burkinis

The far-right mayor of a resort on the Mediterranean coast of France has banned Muslim women from wearing burkinis in any of the town's swimming pools or beaches - despite previous court rulings saying that this is illegal.

French Mediterranean resort's far-right mayor bans burkinis

Three days after the southeastern city of Grenoble voted to allow swimmers to wear the full-cover swimsuit, the mayor of Fréjus – a member of Marine Le Pen’s far right Rassemblement National party – announced that he had decided to outlaw it.

“I learned with amazement of the authorisation given by the mayor of Grenoble to authorise the burkini in the swimming pools of its commune,” David Rachline wrote in a press release. 

READ ALSO OPINION: If France is to belong in a multicultural world it must accept its Muslim women

In fact, Grenoble updated its rules for municipal swimming pools to allow all bathers to wear any swimsuit – including burkinis – that protected them from the sun. It also permits women to swim topless if they wish and men to wear swim shorts instead of Speedos.

No-one seems to have had an issue with the swim shorts or the topless rule, but the addition of the ‘burkini’ to the list of accepted swimwear caused a major stir, with many lining up to condemn the move – including France’s Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin, who ordered the local Préfet to review the decision, and later announced that he had asked for a legal challenge to the new regulations.

READ ALSO French government aims to block ‘burkinis’ in swimming pools

Rachline has pre-empted any decision from the government by acting unilaterally, trotting out the familiar refrain from the right that the decision in Grenoble goes against the “fundamental republican principle of secularism”.

“The express authorisation of the burkini is neither more nor less than an electoral provocation with a communitarian spring, implemented by the radical left,” he said.

“I see a culpable complacency with radical Islamism, for electoral purposes and in defiance of national cohesion.

“In order for things to be clearly stated, I have decided, as mayor of Fréjus, guarantor of public hygiene and safety, to modify the corresponding decrees to explicitly specify the ban on the burkini.”

His ban extends to both the town’s municipal swimming pools and its beaches, and he’s not the first southern mayor to attempt to ban burkinis on beaches.

In 2016, Cannes mayor David Lisnard issued an anti-burkini order on the beaches of his town.

The decision, which had also been taken in municipalities such as Villeneuve-Loubet (Alpes-Maritimes), was overturned after an opinion from the Conseil d’Etat, one of France’s highest legal authorities.