Terrorist attacks and a lack of uniform criteria affect police data in France in 2015


After the unilateral change in the classification of records of the French National Gendarmerie in 2012, the National Police also followed suit the following year, therefore breaking with the statistical process of the known police data base État 4001, which had been used continually for fourteen years.

Apart from the impossibility of studying crime tendencies from 2012 onwards, annual data cannot be offered globally because the classifications used by both police organisations do not coincide and are not applicable to different groups.

The only obvious exception relates to voluntary homicides (including death-related injuries), in which case the two police agencies classify these in the same way. This is the only specific data offered by the National Crime and Penal Response Observatory in relation to police records in 2015. Homicides increase considerably (17.7%), but this is totally due to the terrorist attacks in January and November.

The first attack involved the death of 16 people and the second, 129, figures which amount to 145 crimes. The increase in relation to homicides the previous year (792) was 140 (932). Therefore, without the terrorist attacks, the number of homicides would have continued to fall. This concept is not new as it also happened in the United States in 2001, in Spain in 2004 and in the UK in 2005.

In reference to other penal classifications, the Observatory only ventures to offer partial data, either from the Gendarmerie, or from the National Police. However, reliability is open to question in some of these cases. Therefore, in the case of violence, abuse or abandoning children, the constant and exaggerated increase in crimes recorded by the National Police (a rise of 85% between 2012 and 2015, almost 12,000 more) is accounted for due to changes of criteria both when intervening in and classifying such cases. The Observatory does not detect recent social phenomena to justify this increasing trend.

It must be taken into account that some of the classifications which are interpreted differently by the National Police and the Gendarmerie have very low reporting levels (for example, sexual abuse is only reported 10% of the time; theft of bicycles and vandalising vehicles, between 10 and 20%, and theft in general nearly 30%). Only vehicle theft and burglaries are reported between 70 and 90%, mainly because reporting such cases is a prerequisite for claiming insurance.

If all of these circumstances are kept in mind, we will have to wait for the publication of data published by the study Cadre de Vie et Sécurité to have some idea of the evolution of crime in France in 2015.

You can consult the original document on the website of the Institut National des Hautes Études de la Sécurité et de la Justice (INHESJ).


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