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Security: Valls Concentrates Effort on 15 Priority Zones

Translated Thursday 23 August 2012, by Gene Zbikowski and reviewed by Bill Scoble

Fifteen priority security zones, beginning in September, and 60 in all in a year. Manuel Valls, the Minister of the Interior, announced the launch of this new police and gendarme strategy to the prefects on July 31, in the presence of Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault. The details of the set-up remain to be defined.

Five years of Sarkozy’s General Revision of Public Policy had considerably reduced the number of men employed, and François Hollande has announced a reasonable increase in staffing. As a consequence, the new Minister of the Interior is making do with what he has to meet France’s security problems. The idea is to go all-out, to do what is necessary, in a flexible, adaptable way. It is to set up a reinforced security action in precisely targeted areas that are characterized by a history of delinquency and high expectations from the residents,” is the way he summed it up in June.

Hence, on July 30 Manuel Valls signed a circular, which will be sent to the prefects in the near future, on the setting up of these zones (ZSPs), of which “between 50 and 60 are to be created in a one-year period, beginning in September,” the minister said.

Where will they be?

The names of the first 15 ZSPs was not indicated. It is known only that, of these first 15 ZSPs, “nine are in places that are under the jurisdiction of the police, five in areas under gendarme jurisdiction, and one is in a mixed zone,” Manuel Valls said. The circular revealed by Agence France Presse points out that these zones “do not necessarily cover homogenous areas and could concern sensitive housing projects (scenes of recurrent episodes of urban violence), downtown areas whose structural appearance has deteriorated at the hands of various miscreants, or rural or peri-urban zones.”

Future ZSPs will be proposed by the prefects, who “will make their recommendations based on the experience garnered in this first phase,” the Interior Minister said, adding that he would visit “several of these ZSPs in the course of the first half of September.”

How will they be defined?

The ZSPs must correspond “to targeted areas in which acts of delinquency or incivility are structurally rooted.” This includes, notably, “the underground economy, drug-and arms-trafficking, acquisitive violence, burglary, loitering in the commons areas of residential buildings, public road nuisances and other incivilities.

How will this set-up work?

“Two local structures” will be set up. An “operation coordination cell of the interior security forces” is to “promote the exchange of information, the targeting of objectives to be met, the definition and the deployment of the necessary means, the evaluation of the results.” The other local structure, “a partnership” (of local governments, associations, etc.) will conduct actions to prevent delinquency and will manage the action of complementary resources (municipal police forces).

All of the units, including criminal investigation department units and regional intervention group (GIR) units, “will work together with the ZSPs.” The Interior Minister insisted on the role of the departmental services of general intelligence (SDIG), whose missions of operational intelligence are to be “developed” by the prefects.

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