Darmanin in the muscular footsteps of his predecessors

The Minister of the Interior during an anti-drug operation last September 1 in Choisy-leRoi (Val-de-Marne) – Alain JOCARD / AFP

  • Since his appointment to Place Beauvau last July, Gérald Darmanin has been increasing the number of trips and strong speeches in the field.
  • The first cop in France has made the fight against drug trafficking his priority and is stepping up repression against consumers.
  • A strategy already employed by its predecessors which shows its limits, the number of cannabis users in France being one of the highest in Europe.

Governments pass, history repeats itself. The newly appointed Minister of the Interior enters a district plagued for years by drug trafficking and, surrounded by police officers and often disillusioned elected officials, wanders the streets, looking heartbroken but determined. In front of the cameras that follow him, the tone is serious: the first cop in France, he will do everything possible to eradicate the points of deal that are rotting the lives of the inhabitants of the cities and promises the imminent arrival of police reinforcements. Gérald Darmanin was no exception to the rule. Since he arrived at Place Beauvau on July 6, the man who mimics Nicolas Sarkozy has been making more trips in the field and thundering announcements, promising “proactive operations” against drug trafficking every week.

“It’s a mistake that has been imposed for two decades. Interior ministers must overplay the martial character. It even started before Nicolas Sarkozy. Jean-Pierre Chevènement was like that too. Darmanin takes up this posture that Manuel Valls, Bernard Cazeneuve or Christophe Castaner also held ”, analyzes Mathieu Zagrodzki, associate researcher at the Center for Sociological Research on Law and Penal Institutions. By inflating his muscles, the minister wants to satisfy the police unions and “flatter the instincts of part of the electorate,” he said, confident that he “found it hard to believe that the majority of the French population allowed themselves still have ”.

Cannabis is “shit”

This week, Gérald Darmanin went to Reims, where some neighborhoods have been the scene of urban violence this summer. Faced with this tense situation, the LR mayor of the city, Arnaud Robinet,
had called the government to open “a serious reflection on the subject of the legalization of cannabis, by studying the consequences and the impact of this measure which would attack the traffickers with the wallet”. The elected representative sees several advantages in the sale of cannabis supervised by the State: the profits would make it possible to finance “additional resources for the police”, which could focus their investigations “on the big traffickers of hard drugs”.

A proposal that many right-wing and left-wing parliamentarians had already made before him, for example in 2014 or last June, but which was swept aside by the back of the hand by the host of Beauvau. “I have a deep disagreement with Arnaud Robinet on this point, and despite my esteem for him. On this subject, I think he is deeply mistaken, ”replied Gerald Darmanin in an interview on Monday.
the newspaper L’Union. “I cannot, as Minister of the Interior, as a politician, tell parents who are fighting to get their children out of drug addiction, that we are going to legalize this shit . And I say “this shit” “, the minister was carried away. Before ensuring that the government “does not [rait] pas les bras ”in the matter.

A fine to “relieve” the work of the police

A speech that has an air of déjà vu. In his time, Manuel Valls was committed, during a trip to Marseille, to “put an end to this trafficking, with these networks that spoil the lives of citizens”. Later, his successor, Bernard Cazeneuve, had also promised “extremely powerful measures” as well as police reinforcements to clear the deal points that abound in Saint-Ouen in Seine-Saint-Denis. Years later, it is clear that in this suburb of Paris, in Marseille as in other municipalities, the issue of drug trafficking has not been resolved. Consumers who come to get their supplies, however, incur a prison sentence if they are arrested. But in fact, they often only get a reminder of the law.

In turn, Gérald Darmanin has therefore made the fight against drug traffickers his “priority”. He drew his weapon: a fixed fine of 200 euros for the use of narcotics, which is the subject of an entry in the criminal record (B1) of the person concerned. “Each time a consumer was arrested, he had to be taken to the police station, the procedure drafted… And he risked almost nothing judicially, possibly an obligation of therapeutic care, remembers Denis Jacob, general secretary of the union.
Alternative police. All that is over. This fine saves time and will ease the workload of our colleagues even if only 41% of fines are paid. The policeman believes that the Minister of the Interior was right to say that “drugs are shit”.

“Holding a warlike speech will not solve the problem”

But for Mathieu Zagrodzki, “the traffic is so anchored in certain territories, geographically and economically speaking, that it is not with a few reports and a warlike speech that we will solve the problem”. On the side of the Federation Addiction, which brings together professionals accompanying users, we denounce “a communication measure”. “If the goal is to lower the level of cannabis use, it won’t work. If the goal is to fight against trafficking by attacking consumers, we are skeptical. On the other hand, this will allow the police to display figures, ”regrets Nathalie Latour, general delegate of the Addiction Federation.

“The penalization of simple use does not allow those who need it to access a support system”, she continues, specifying that France “the number of users is not decreasing while France has one of the most repressive drug policies ”. In Portugal, one of the few countries to have decriminalized drug use, drug use has declined. The OFDT also underlines that “France is the country with the highest prevalence of cannabis consumption among young people and adults in Europe”. Faced with this observation, the general delegate of the Addiction Federation has the impression that the government has “let the boat slip.” It was time, she said, to bring together representatives of the ministries of health, the interior and justice around a table. “We lost years again. “

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