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Congress of the Regions of France

Frédéric Fortin / MCM Press for Localtis


The regions of France dedicated one of the workshops of their congress to security, to which several regions are now devoting considerable resources. In transport – where, according to the SSMSI study, theft and violence are again on the rise – and in secondary schools, in the face of cybercrime or more broadly by helping communities. “We do not deal with delinquency by sector”, we explain.

“What does the region do with security policy?” Renaud Pfeffer, vice-president of the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region responsible for security, pretends to wonder at the opening of a workshop dedicated to the topic by the regions of France. on September 15 as part of its 18e congress. For him, the answer is obvious: “Our social pact puts security first among the freedoms and responsibilities of each of us.” Including the regions. “We can’t use anything if security isn’t guaranteed. It’s a prerequisite for all activities,” adds Julien Polat, mayor of Voiron, a town of 20,000 near Grenoble that has doubled its police force. mandate.

No public transport without security

Regions’ investments in security are not only no longer taboo, but are now widely shared (see our article of March 24, 2021). It naturally started with the provision of transport and secondary schools, two regional competences. “We cannot support public transport without fighting uncertainty. Without security, it is a quick return to the individual car,” defends Renaud Pfeffer. What Covid has demonstrated in part, for health reasons (see our article of April 17, 2020). And to finish: “When parents entrust their children to national education, it is so that they can study, flourish, become citizens in a place of sanctuary. The region has made a lot of efforts in this area. First they all fell on Laurent Wauquiez Now they are the heads of operations , who ask,” he defends. “The problem is particularly acute in school transport, where the bus driver is on the front line and without any privilege,” notes Julien Polat. Jean-Pascal Thomasset, mayor of Nantou and secretary general of France Victims, agrees and emphasizes the phenomena of harassment that are spreading there. And he regrets the “absence of links between parents and teachers” that led him to “remove the school bus in his village” this year. Proof by example…

The fight against crime, necessarily “global”

Investments expand gradually and almost naturally. “Stations, often located in the heart of the city, concentrate flows and naturally attract delinquency, whether local or vagrant. If there is a problem at the station, there is a problem in the city”, shows Julien Polat. Xavier Roche, rail safety director for the SNCF group, says he insists on the need for the famous ‘safety continuum’: ‘We cannot work on crime by sector. If I secure the train but not the station, it won’t matter. And if I secure the station but not the forecourt, I won’t solve anything.” “Transport is an extension of the public highway,” he insists, specifying, “an extension, but in a compact configuration that facilitates deviations “. This is confirmed by a study just released by the Department of Homeland Security’s Statistical Service: “On average, since 2016, crime on public transport accounts for 5% of recorded victims, all attacks combined”. And as for the thefts and violence that are the subject of the study, “public transport accounts for one in ten victims”, he teaches. In Île-de-France, where “62% of the victims registered in transport are concentrated” (and even “three quarters of the registered victims of violent theft”, representing 18% of the national population), a study reveals that “almost one in three non-violent thefts is committed there in public transport”. A study that also teaches that outside the Île-de-France “the surface network is the first place where all attacks are committed except outrages and violence against ag entities of public power, which take place mainly on the railway network”.

Hardening of delinquency

This shows the scope of the task. Especially since the study highlights that “recorded theft and violence are on the rise again in 2021 in public transport” (+10% for the number of victims of insults and violence against agents of public authority, +19% for intentional assault and +32% for sexual violence “in the context of freedom of expression and improved acceptance of victims”). “They will not return to pre-pandemic levels,” the study says. Note, however, that France was limited to a month in 2021 and that transport use last year also did not return to pre-crisis levels (2.6 billion journeys in 2020, 3.3 billion in 2021, but 4.7 billion in 2019, the study is mentioned). So for a more accurate idea, we will have to wait for the numbers for 2022. But for Xavier Roche, there is no doubt: “We are facing a tsunami of delinquency, a sharpening of insecurity, whether in volume or quality, with increasingly armed individuals and gang phenomena on the peripheries. big cities, eg like Savigny-le-Temple.”

Lack of resources and legal uncertainty

To compensate, the company invests a lot in the training of its forces, demonstrations of support at the Vichy station: dogs to detect explosives and hits, drones… “It all costs something”, insists Xavier Roche, regretting that he is not able to pass it to the correct amount in the tariffs. The aid from the Aura region – 28 million euros – for the deployment of video protection at 130 stations – 2,200 cameras and the regional traffic safety center to which the images are directed – is therefore more than appreciated. But it’s not all about resources. Xavier Rocher therefore regrets the division of the security forces, “not because they don’t talk to each other – the police war is over!” – but due to different agent privileges. My teams can be blocked for 3 hours waiting for an agent to come and arrest the offender we arrested…”. It calls for a revision of the texts. It also calls for an evolution of the law in relation to “video surveillance to allow police officers to focus on truly relevant footage”. Above all, he protests against the “significant legal uncertainty of the police”, evoking the “risk of disengagement of agents who prefer to give blows rather than end up in court”, not to mention the risk of “great resignation”.

Bonus for poor students

Julien Polat joins him. “In the beginning, I was not a supporter of body cameras. I was shocked that the words of sworn persons and perpetrators were put on the same level. But I changed my mind. These cameras allow us to put the images in their context, and balance the videos circulating on social networks, which are often truncated.” The same positive opinion about video protection, which “also allows for the expansion of the perimeter of the patrols”. “It is a determining tool without which we could no longer do, but without a person in the field it remains ineffective,” he underlines and praises the “support of the region” , without which he could not have “the same ambitions”. The other side of the coin, according to him: “When we allocate resources for security, the state withdraws its own. 80% of the national police force is going to Grenoble, while Voiron has not received any additional agents. bonus for bad students,” he says.

Increase in computer crime

This makes it all the more important that new fronts are constantly opening: “Communities remain highly vulnerable to cybercrime. Everything needs to be done in this area. We are not up to par”, admits Julien Polat. “SNCF suffers from 150 cyber attacks a day. It’s a war we won’t win. The goal is not to lose it,” explains Xavier Roche. To deal with this, the “regions, pilots of economic development in the territories”, recall the regions of France, which signed in Vichy a cooperation agreement with the National Gendarmerie aimed at creating networks of actors, developing professional training and skills, as well as “operational coordination interventions with the aim effective coordination between technical support and judicial response”. “This partnership should allow us to strengthen our means of anticipation and response in the regions, in conjunction with the new cyber incident response centers that are currently deployed,” explains the president of the association, Carole Delga.

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