Fiche S

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In France, a fiche S (English: S card) is an indicator used by law enforcement to flag an individual considered to be a serious threat to national security. The S stands for Sûreté de l'État ("state security"). It is the highest level of such a warning in France; it allows surveillance but is not cause for arrest.[1] There have been some 400,000 individuals assigned a fiche S since 1969. These continue to include gangsters, prison escapees, and ecologists (that are anarchists, anti-nuclear campaigners, etc.), as well as suspected Islamist radicals.[2] Suspects flagged with fiche S have included those who have looked at jihadist websites or met radicals outside mosques, to those considered highly dangerous.[3]


The fiche S alert began in 1969 with the establishment of the national fugitive registry, the "Fichier des personnes recherchées" ("File of Wanted People") or FPR, maintained by the Police Nationale. Approximately 400,000 people, from mafia members to escaped prisoners, were in the FPR at any given point. The fiche S in someone's file indicated a threat to national security.[4]

Now a digital warning rather than a paper one, the presence of fiche S in the system symbolizes a warning to every law enforcement official or customs officer who accesses someone's file. The degree of severity ranges from level S01 to S15 (1 being the highest, 15 the lowest), degrees which indicate the measures law enforcement should take in dealing with the individual. The card is updated every two years.[5] It is the highest warning possible without giving cause for arrest (or deportation in case of a foreign national),[4] though it does permit surveillance, including wiretapping and placing GPS-tracking devices on cars.[6][7]

The system is used by the Ministry of the Interior and Ministry of Defense to fight terrorism. There were an estimated 5,000 people with this status in 2012.[1]

In 2015, the French Prime Minister Manuel Valls claimed there were 20,000 people in France tagged with a fiche S, including 10,500 suspected of being Islamic radicals.[8][3]

Notable individuals[edit]

Notable individuals who have been flagged with fiche S include:


After the foiled train attack by Ayoub El Khazzani, the fiche S system was scrutinized by the French media, who asked why more was not done to prevent El Khazzani from moving freely around Europe.[12] According to French Senator Nathalie Goulet, the "vast majority" of recent terrorist incidents in France were committed by those already tagged with a fiche S. Goulet, the chairwoman of France's Inquiry Commission into extremist jihad networks in France, said the system must either change so it is useful or be scrapped altogether. She said the system should be more similar to a permanent sex offender registry, that has no expiration.[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Dhollande-Monnier, Victor (26 June 2015). "Attentat en Isère : qu'est-ce que la fiche S ?" (in French). Retrieved 22 August 2015.
  2. ^ Laurent, Samuel (31 August 2015). "Terrorisme : qu'est-ce que la " fiche S " ?". Le Monde (in French). Retrieved 3 October 2016.
  3. ^ a b "A bloody siege shows the strengths and limits of French security work". The Economist. 18 November 2015. Retrieved 19 November 2015.
  4. ^ a b "Qu'est-ce qu'une "fiche S" ?". Libération (in French). 26 June 2015. Retrieved 22 August 2015.
  5. ^ a b Maligorne, Clementine (22 August 2015). "Attentat déjoué dans un Thalys: qu'est-ce qu'une fiche S ?". Le Figaro (in French). Retrieved 22 August 2015.
  6. ^ "Terrorisme : le parcours d'une fiche S en 8 étapes". Le Figaro (in French). 25 August 2015. Retrieved 25 August 2015.
  7. ^ a b "Mohamed Merah aurait été fiché par les renseignements dès 2006". (in French). 31 March 2012. Retrieved 3 October 2016.
  8. ^ "Attentat en Isère - L'auteur présumé était fiché " S ": en quoi ça consiste?". BFMTV (in French). 26 June 2015. Retrieved 3 October 2016.
  9. ^ a b Revel-Dumas, Céline (23 August 2015). "Fusillade dans le Thalys: "Il faut rendre la fiche "S" performante et utile"". Le Figaro (in French). Retrieved 25 August 2015.
  10. ^ Seelow, Soren (23 April 2015). "Le suspect de l'attentat déjoué n'avait pas le profil d'un délinquant radicalisé". Le Monde (in French). Retrieved 24 August 2015.
  11. ^ "Strasbourg terror attack suspect revealed as 'delinquent' amid huge manhunt". 12 December 2018.
  12. ^ Cornevin, Christophe (24 August 2015). "Fiches S : enquête sur le fichier au cœur de la traque antiterroriste". Le Figaro (in French). Retrieved 25 August 2015.