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France plans to better protect officials after arson at mayor’s home

The new proposals are in response to the resignation of Yannick Morez as mayor of a French town after an arson attack at his home

The new ‘security pack’ plans come after Yannick Morez resigned following an arson attack on his home and vehicles Pic: Screenshot / Yannick Morez / Mairie de Saint-Brevin-les-Pins

France has put forward plans designed to better protect elected officials from violence and threats.

Reports of violence against them increased by 32% between 2021 and 2022, according to the French government. 

It comes after the mayor of Saint-Brevin-les-Pins (Loire-Atlantique), Yannick Morez, resigned from his position after 15 years on the council (and six as mayor). That followed an arson attack on his vehicles and home. He said the threats and attack had left his family “traumatised”.

Read more: French mayor quits over fire at his home linked to asylum hub support 

A demonstration in support of Mr Morez and against attacks on officials took place on Wednesday (May 24) in Saint-Brevin.

Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne met Mr Morez on Wednesday, May 17, following his resignation and presented new measures designed to stop any further similar attacks on other officials.

This new ‘security pack’ for officials includes plans to:

  • Create a network of more than 3,400 national gendarmerie and police personnel, dedicated to ‘attacks on elected representatives’ throughout the country, to offer officials a specific point of contact to talk to about the threats or violence they may receive

  • Strengthen the ‘elected official alarm’ system, which allows elected officials who feel threatened to contact their police station or gendarmerie and benefit from rapid processing of their calls to the emergency number 17

  • Boost the ‘outreach’ approach of the police to enable local elected representatives to lodge a complaint when and where they wish

  • Develop new awareness-raising sessions on managing aggression and de-escalating violence against elected representatives

  • Strengthen the PHAROS platform to better detect and prosecute online violence against elected officials

PHAROS is an online reporting system that invites people to report illicit online content and behaviour.

The government will also compile data to analyse and understand the phenomenon of anti-official violence, through the publication of an annual report, and be sure to follow up any reports of threats or aggression.

Read also: You should soon be able to report some crimes in France from home

The government is also set to introduce stronger sanctions for people found guilty of threatening or attacking an official, and the alignment of all law enforcement services so that they are aware of these new measures.

Violette Spillebout, MP for the Nord department, told FranceInfo that she felt the measures were needed, but that she did not want to worsen the crisis. 

She said: “People often say to us: ‘Really, I’m interested in politics, but I would never do it. Given what you go through, I’d never get involved.’”

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French mayor’s house torched amid tensions over asylum seeker centre 

 

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