French toughen up on crime – survey

70% believe justice system is not functioning and want tougher sentences for young offenders and more prisons

15 August 2013

MOST of the French public believe the justice system is failing, punishments should be harsher and more prisons should be built.

The survey comes during a row between the Interior Minister Manuel Valls and Justice Minister Christiane Taubira over the latter’s plans to reduce the number of people sent to prison.

- 70% believe the justice system is not functioning, as opposed to 59% in 2009, in a survey for the newspaper Le Figaro.

- 72% believe that the justice system is not properly funded – with a political split showing this believe is held more among Left-wing voters. (77% Left, 64% Right)

- 62% believe that penalties for lesser offences are not harsh enough, which rises to 74% when considering punishments for young offenders. (A rise of 14% in the past nine years.)

The survey, carried out by Ifop, questioned 1,003 people across a range of quotas matching the French population.

Ifop director François Kraus told the paper: “All the other crimes that we asked about in the poll, whether sex crimes, white-collar crimes, drug trafficking or organised crime, are relatively stable in terms of how people view the penalty. Doubtless because people don’t really see the consequences in their daily lives.”

Those polled were generally unhappy with the sentences imposed for theft, burglary and assault.

Voters on both Left and Right were strongly in favour of the construction of new prisons (75% and 86% respectively) however, 79% also wanted to see more alternative methods of punishment such as electronic tagging or community works instead of short prison sentences.

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