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France legalises weapons for personal security staff

Personal security guards are now permitted to carry weapons, according to a new law published in the Journal Officiel on December 31.

This new ruling has brought into national law - from January 1 2018 onwards - the previous public security act of March 1 2017, which proposed allowing security guards to carry weapons and police officers to increase their self-defence options, in a climate of perceived heightened terrorist threats.

The decree reads: “Protection officers will now be able to be armed when they ‘are providing protection for a person exposed to exceptional risks’.”

This can range from lethal weapons  - such as guns - if life is perceived to be at risk, or in less-severe situations, non-lethal weapons, such as telescopic batons and tear gas aerosols.

This change in the law has been long-awaited in the world of private security, according to news source France Info.

Yet, the measure has received criticism from some sides, with human rights group La Commission Nationale Consultative des Droits de l'Homme (CNCDH) questioning the decision to give weapons to security staff whose “selection process, training and supervision is far from that required for police, gendarmerie, and other official law enforcement staff”.

The CNCDH also criticised the lack of “central chain of command” for security staff, and said that the move would “usher the banalisation of the presence of armed people in a public space”, and “change the social relationship with weapons”.

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