Publication - Research and analysis

Coronavirus (COVID-19): international policing responses - part 1 - during lockdown

Published: 27 Jul 2020

This review (part 1) considers international policing approaches and responses to policing the lockdown, up to the 7 May 2020.

53 page PDF

1.1 MB

53 page PDF

1.1 MB

Contents
Coronavirus (COVID-19): international policing responses - part 1 - during lockdown
France

53 page PDF

1.1 MB

France

Main points

  • Fines for individuals not respecting the lockdown amount to 135 euros, or 200 euros for those caught a second time; after three infractions, individuals can be charged with a crime (and sent to prison)
  • Checkpoints set up around the country
  • People in France are required to fill in a self-declaration form each time they leave their house
  • There have been repeated clashes with the police, which seem to be motivated by the lockdown's harsh impact on people from lower socio-economic backgrounds and Minority Ethnic communities
  • The French government is developing a contact-tracing app
  • The lockdown will be eased from 11 May

The lockdown

On 16 March, President Emmanuel Macron said the country was effectively 'at war' as he announced a 15-day lockdown, which was consequently extended until 11 May. At the time of the announcement, 100,000 police officers were mobilised to enforce the lockdown.[107] Fixed checkpoints were set up across the country.[108] Only trips to supermarkets, pharmacies and places of work were allowed and all workers were told to work from home where possible.[109] Paris banned daytime lone exercise on 7 April.[110]

Policing the lockdown

Fines for individuals not respecting the lockdown amount to 135 euros, or 200 euros for those caught a second time. After three infractions, individuals can be charged with a crime (and have been sent to prison).[111] On 23 April, it was reported that a total of 915,000 fines had been issued since the beginning of the coronavirus lockdown.[112]

People in France are required to fill in a self-declaration form, which can also be filled in via a mobile app, each time they leave their house, in order to prove their travel is justified in accordance with the government's travel exceptions (for example, for work-related reasons, or for grocery shopping). As of 3 April, 5.8 million people had been stopped and asked to show the form.[113]

During the Easter weekend, Checkpoints were set up on all major roads and motorways out of towns and cities with orders to turn back those attempting to break the rules, with an extra 60,000 police officers joining the 100,000 already on duty.[114]

Clashes with the police

There have been repeated clashes with the police in various French cities, especially in Paris' suburbs which were prone to unrest prior to COVID-19. These current episodes seem to be motivated by the lockdown's harsh impact on people from lower socio-economic backgrounds and Minority Ethnic communities. Among a number of incidents, a primary school was partially destroyed by fire in a north-west suburb of Paris and police in another district said fireworks had been aimed at them. The incidents led the Paris police prefecture to ban the purchase or possession of fireworks in the city and three surrounding departments until 27 April.[115] Interior Minister Castaner told the Senate that the authorities had coordinated operations every evening for the past few weeks in 'sensitive neighbourhoods' in Seine-Saint-Denis, one of the areas worst affected by coronavirus-related deaths. He said there had been 220,000 checks and 38,000 fines in these areas -- 'about twice the national average in terms of police controls.' Castaner said in the Senate that there had been 'ambushes' on police, which he condemned 'in the strongest possible terms'.[116]

Technology

The French government is also developing a contact-tracing app, which will be voluntary and anonymise users' data. However, a published document reveals there would be ways to 're-identify users or to infer their contact graphs' if desired. There have been some issues between France and Apple and Google during the development of the app, as Apple currently does not allow the app to run in the background. French lawmakers are due to vote on whether to proceed with the app.[117]

Easing the lockdown

France will start easing the lockdown from 11 May if new cases stay below 3,000 a day. Face masks will be made compulsory on public transport and in secondary schools. Schools will reopen gradually, while employees who can work from home will be asked to keep doing so. Non-essential shops will reopen on 11 May, but not bars and restaurants. People will be able to go outside again without the self-declaration form, and public gatherings of up to 10 people will be allowed[118],[119].


Contact

Email: socialresearch@gov.scot