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Fewer police on the beat

Sick leave, admin, training and court time mean the number of beat police officers has halved in a decade

THE NUMBER of beat police officers in France has halved in the past decade, a new report reveals.

The study by criminologists Alain Bauer and Christophe Soullez, seen by Le Figaro, found sick leave, training, court time and admin meant police were spending much less time on the streets.

The total number of police officers and gendarmes has remained stable at 222,000 over the past 10 years, while the population of France has grown by 6% over the same period.

In towns and cities, the number of officers "available to intervene in public" has almost halved. In 1998, there was an average of one beat police officer for every 400 residents - this is now one for 750.

In rural areas, the proportion of gendarmes has gone from one in 485 to almost one in 1,000 in the same time.

The report, based on official figures from the Interior Ministry, found that the equivalent of 3,237 full-time jobs is taken up in court, and another 1,000 officers spend their time standing outside embassies and other official buildings.

Police took 1.2 million days of sick leave in 2008 - the equivalent of 7,300 full-time jobs, according to the authors. Another 20% of officers were unavailable because they were on a training course.

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