Law Enforcement in France


Law enforcement in France has a long history dating back to AD 570, when night watch systems were commonplace.

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Policing is centralized at the national level.

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Recently, legislation has allowed local governments to hire their own police officers which are called the "police municipale".

A police force is a constituted body of persons empowered by the state to enforce the law, protect property, and limit civil disorder.


There are two national police forces called "Police nationale" and "Gendarmerie nationale".


The Prefecture of Police of Paris provides policing services directly to Paris as a subdivision of France's Ministry of the Interior.

The Paris Police Prefecture is the unit of the French National Police which provides the police force for the city of Paris and the surrounding three suburban départements of Hauts-de-Seine, Seine-Saint-Denis, and Val-de-Marne.


Within these national forces only certain designated police officers have the power to conduct criminal investigations which are supervised by investigative magistrates.

An inquisitorial system is a legal system where the court or a part of the court is actively involved in investigating the facts of the case, as opposed to an adversarial system where the role of the court is primarily that of an impartial referee between the prosecution and the defense.

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