In the aftermath of demonstrations against police violence, Christophe Castaner announced systematic sanctions against the authors of racist remarks among the police. But what do the figures from surveys reveal on this subject?

Interior Minister Christophe Castaner announced Wednesday that the police would be "penalized" in the event of a "fault" or racist word emanating from the police. And while a banned demonstration gathered 20,000 people Tuesday evening in support of the family of Adama Traoré, the theme of police violence against racialized people reappears in public debate. But what is it really? Europe 1 takes stock in three questions.

Is there really racist violence by the police in France?

Nobody counts the "racist violence" that would be committed by the police, no more than by firefighters or SNCF controllers. On the other hand, there are, on the one hand, investigations for racist or discriminatory comments made by the police, and on the other, investigations for what some call "police violence" or unjustified use of force. The Minister of the Interior also rejects this term.

How many investigations are carried out each year?

There are very few judicial investigations of "discrimination or racism" against the police. In 2019, the IGPN was seized about thirty times, against 46 investigations in 2018. Recall that in total, there are 146,000 police officers.

Concerning the investigations into voluntary violence, the figures for 2019 are not yet known. We know that they are very high, because of the demonstrations of "yellow vests". In 2018, for example, 612 judicial investigations entrusted to the IGPN were counted. 

How to explain this difference of feeling between the testimonies of the street and the number of investigations?

Mainly, because victims of racism will very rarely file a complaint or go to court. They think (rightly or wrongly) that it is useless. However, when there is a video in particular, there is an investigation. At the end of April, a Hauts-de-Seine policeman was suspended after being filmed by describing as a "bicot" a young fugitive rescued from the Seine.

Police officers are punished every year. But overall, these are cases that remain rare, while the police are increasingly filmed, everywhere, all the time. They themselves, for some, have pedestrian cameras, to film the controls and avoid abuse on both sides.

Nevertheless, there is a feeling on the part of a part of the population, young, urban, who feels stigmatized. According to a national study by the Defender of Rights, in 2017, young men "perceived as black or Arab" are twenty times more controlled than the average.