How does police presence and action affect the French public’s perception of security?

A study carried out based on crime interviews Cadre de vie et sécurité, 2008-2017[1] has allowed for the assessment of police presence and action by over 160,000 interviewees over the age of 14, resident in France.

In general terms, the French population views police presence and action positively: 47% of those interviewed think that the police presence in their neighbourhood or municipality is sufficient and 48%, that police action against crime is effective enough. These perceptions continue to be very stable with the passing of time and improve as of 2015, possibly due to a better and more visible police presence, reinforced after the terrorist attacks. Despite this, 19% of these individuals considered the police presence to be insufficient and 27%, inexistent. With regard to socially disadvantaged areas, the percentage of those who consider police action not to be effective enough rises to 44%.

Apart from global percentages, aspects like the individual characteristics of the person interviewed and the place of residence have an impact on the assessment of the presence and effectiveness of police action.

Individual characteristics

In general, men and more elderly people view police presence and effectiveness positively.

  • 49% of the men interviewed think that police presence in the local environment is sufficient compared to 45% of women. 49% of men also consider police action effective, compared to 46% of women.
  • 52% of people over 66 believe that the police presence in their neighbourhood is sufficient and 50% believe that police action is effective enough.

Features of the place of residence

In general, the perception of the effectiveness of police action in the fight against crime is very positive in rural areas, but it gets worse in urban conurbations with over 100,000 inhabitants and in the metropolitan area of Paris. As shown in the graphic below.

Assessment of police action in the fight against crime in accordance with the territory


Source: Interviews CVS (2008-2017): INSEE-ONDRP-SSMSI; data treatment: ONDRP. The people interviewed are over 14 and live in France.

Although a casual connection has not been successfully established, there seems to be a link between the presence and effectiveness of police action in the municipality and the population. Inversely, the individuals who feel most insecure also tend to be more critical when assessing police practices.

Further information:

[1] The Cadre de vie et sécurité survey was conducted by Ministerial Statistics Service and Internal Security (SSMSI) from 2015, and the National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies (INSEE) and the National Crime and Penal Response Observatory (ONDRP) from 2007.


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