Despite the three administrative and parliamentary reports criticizing the departmentalization project and the way it is being carried out, the Minister of the Interior is keen for the reform to be effective before the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
The mail left less than twenty-four hours after the publication of the last parliamentary work on the reform of the national police. Sent to all agents, the missive was also published on Twitter by Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin. Two brief pages to set out a course that does not change. Despite the criticisms and numerous amendments proposed by three voluminous reports, issued by the fact-finding missions of the law commissions of the Senate and the National Assembly, and the general inspections of the administration, the national police and the justice (IGA, IGPN and IGJ).
Staff “to be reassured”
The reform plans to make the department the reference level of the institution by creating departmental directorates of the national police (DDPN). A delimitation unsuitable for many criminal cases. This worries, among other things, the investigators of the judicial police in charge of the most serious and complex cases, and the whole of the judiciary. We learn in today’s letter how the ministry is responding to these reservations: by creating “interdepartmental directors of the national police” (DIPN). The DIPNs will be DDPNs whose judicial police services may be sent to neighboring departments. In the mapping of these services sent to the press, we learn that a third of the departments will have them – these are those that already have judicial police services dealing with the “top of the criminal spectrum”. At the ministry, we explain that it is “important to reassure” the number of PCs worried by the reform, and “to anchor in the organization that these units do not have a strictly departmental vocation”.
This apparent concession, which Gérald Darmanin supports with two strokes of the pen at the margin of the letter, is in fact cosmetic. In a letter of November 2022 addressed to the national association of judicial police (ANPJ) which leads the revolt, the director of cabinet of the Minister of the Interior already assured: “It is not envisaged to imagine confining the action of the police services within the strict borders of the department.”
Badly prepared and too substantial
The only real announcement of the day can be read between the lines of the ministerial letter: if nothing is said about the timetable for the reform, it is because it is maintained. The departmentalization should therefore be effective at the end of the year (after having been scheduled for January 1, 2023). The Senate’s fact-finding mission, in its report published Thursday, had however explicitly requested a moratorium until the Olympic and Paralympic Games. The rapporteurs Nadine Bellurot (LR) and Jérôme Durain (PS) indeed considered the reform too poorly prepared, and far too substantial on the technical, legal, financial and managerial levels to be carried out in a little over a year. LFI deputy Ugo Bernalicis, rapporteur for the National Assembly’s fact-finding mission, issued the same recommendation.
As for the general inspectorates, they considered more politely than “the creation of DDPNs is a complex overall exercise […] which falls within the context of other structuring reforms of the police and which takes place in a calendar constrained by the deadline of the Olympic and Paralympic Games”. And to address to the reformers many recommendations, by slipping to them that the implementation of the project “will have to go through a sufficient time of foreshadowing at the local level”. However, the audit of the inspections, like the fact-finding missions, considered that the experiments underway in several departments were not sufficient to draw conclusions on the reform. Because they had been carried out for too little time, and in an inappropriate legal and administrative framework: neither the law nor the regulations were changed to allow the DDPN experimenters to fully play their new role.
Where are the judges?
In unison with parliamentarians, the IGA, the IGPN and the IGJ also advocated the development of“a social dialogue with staff and trade unions, and adequate exchanges with the judicial authority”. In his letter of the day, Gérald Darmanin answers them in a few sentences : “The doctrines which will act on the modes of operation in each sector will very quickly be the subject of exchanges with the personnel and the trade union organizations […] The latter will continue to be associated once a month with [la] implementation of the project.
Surprisingly enough, the judicial authority does not appear anywhere in this letter. The Ministry of the Interior replies that it is because it is intended for police officers. Nevertheless, in the context of investigations, it is the magistrates who have authority over them.