- The White Paper on Homeland Security, a 322-page document released Monday by the Interior Ministry, is the result of a year-long effort involving government, unions and major police and gendarmerie. It was initiated by the predecessor of Gérald Darmanin place Beauvau, Christophe Castaner.
- Its authors – ministry officials who have conducted several phases of consultations – note that the police are now “the object of a rejection of a significant segment of the population”. They believe that the French, poorly informed, ignore the missions of the police.
- Faced with this situation, the White Book recommends a reorganization of the communication of the Ministry of the Interior.
Texts and measures aimed at better controlling the image of law enforcement agencies follow one another. Presented last September, the national law enforcement plan mentions the obligation, for journalists wishing to cover demonstrations, to be “holders of a press card and accredited to the authorities”. One of the articles of the proposed law on “global security” provides for punishing the dissemination of images or identification elements of police or gendarmes when they are in operation. Another that the videos from their “pedestrian cameras” can be made public. The White Paper on Homeland Security, published Monday, also contains its share of measures to strengthen the communication of the ministry.
This 322-page document, which required a year of work, brings together nearly 200 proposals to “inspire the action of the Minister of the Interior for the coming years”, according to Gerald Darmanin’s expression. Several of them aim to “recreate the conditions of trust between the population and the police”.
Raising awareness of the missions of the police
Its authors, mainly executives of the ministry, in fact note that attacks against police officers, gendarmes and firefighters increased sharply in 2019. “This phenomenon, whose scale and intensity are unprecedented in our recent history, is one of the demonstrations of the mistrust developed by a part of the French towards the security forces. “Acclaimed in 2015 after the attacks, the latter are, five years later,” the object of a rejection of a significant fringe of the population “.
This mistrust is mainly explained, according to them, by the ignorance of their missions by the population. In essence, the French are poorly informed and only retain the “negative aspects” of the police, “reported through the media and social networks”, the latter being vectors of “false news” and manipulated information. . Nothing to do, therefore, with the cases of police violence which have made headlines in recent years, nor with the facies checks regularly denounced by associations or institutions such as the Defender of Rights. Subjects which are not, moreover, mentioned in the White Book.
However, the document insists on one point: the communication of the Ministry of the Interior, which has been lacking so far, must change. It must “make known and promote the action of the police so as not to leave the field open to questioning of which they are more and more systematically the object”. “This implies in particular to better explain the rules and intervention frameworks so that they are better accepted and better integrated by everyone. “
Its authors also underline the need, for Place Beauvau, to develop “local communication, carried on a daily basis by actors in the field”, so that “the internal security forces are better known locally to the population”.
“Stop the spread of false news as quickly as possible”
The Ministry of the Interior must also “reorganize”, in particular by equipping itself “with a network and a communication chain adapted to the challenges of internal security”, and strengthen the territorial network of communicators through community managers. The latter will aim to develop their presence on social networks in order to “slow down the spread of false news as quickly as possible”.
“It is neither possible nor desirable to react to the slightest video posted on social networks”, concede their authors of the White Book. On the other hand, “it is necessary that the various actors of the communication of the Ministry of the Interior be able to be present and reactive on social networks, to make an official voice heard quickly and regularly in crisis situations, to produce their own images and content, to verify the information in circulation as quickly as possible in order to be able, if necessary, to invalidate and decipher it ”.