National Police (France)

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National Police
Police nationale
MottoPro patria vigilant [1]
Agency overview
FormedApril 23, 1941 [2][3] (unification of existing units)
Preceding agency
  • Sûreté nationale (1944–1966)
Employees145,200 (2015)
Jurisdictional structure
National agencyFrance
Operations jurisdictionFrance
Size551,695 km²
Population67.2 million
Governing bodyCabinet of France
General nature
Operational structure
Overviewed byGeneral Directorate of the National Police
HeadquartersParis, France
Minister responsible
Agency executive
Helicopters0 (see Sécurité Civile)
Official website (in French)
Colour guard of the General Directorate of the National Police, 2013 Bastille Day parade, Paris

The National Police (French: Police nationale), formerly known as the Sûreté nationale, is one of two national police forces, along with the National Gendarmerie, and the main civil law enforcement agency of France, with primary jurisdiction in cities and large towns. The other main agency is the military Gendarmerie, with primary jurisdiction in smaller towns and rural and border areas. The National Police comes under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of the Interior and has about 145,699 employees (in April 2008). Young French citizens can fulfill the mandatory service Service national universel (SNU) in the police force.[4][5]

The National Police operates mostly in large cities and towns. In that context:

  • it conducts security operations (patrols, traffic control, identity checks)
  • under the orders and supervision of the investigating magistrates of the judiciary, it conducts criminal enquiries, serves search warrants, etc.; it maintains specific services ("judicial police") for criminal enquiries.


The police is commanded by the director-general (directeur général de la police nationale) who is currently Jean-Marc Falcone. The director-general is directly in charge of the General Directorate of the National Police (French: Direction Générale de la Police nationale) (DGPN) and the immediate subordinate of the Minister of the Interior.[6]

The police is then sub-divided into (central) directorates which are composed of sub-directorates :

The Préfet de Police, currently Didier Lallement, under direct orders of the Minister of the Interior, manages the Préfecture de Police de Paris which includes all police and security services in Paris and neighbouring départements, those services not being under the control of the director-general. The police forces in the other départements of the Île-de-France region are under the direct command of the Préfet (Département Prefect) in charge, being himself under the supervision of the Préfet de Police as far as the active on-the-field police work is concerned, and under the control of the director-general for the rest.

Former directorates[edit]

As of 1 July 2008, the following two National Police directorates:

were merged into one single domestic intelligence agency titled the Direction centrale du renseignement intérieur (DCRI). The DCRI was placed directly under the Ministry of the Interior.[8]


The National Police is divided into three corps, in the terminology of the French Civil Service, in ascending order of seniority:

  • The Corps d'encadrement et d'application (Management and Enforcement Corps) corresponds approximately to the enlisted and non-commissioned ranks in a military force, or to constables and sergeants in a British-style civil police force.
  • The Corps de commandement (Command Corps) corresponds approximately to the lower commissioned ranks of a military force, or the grades of inspector and chief inspector in a British-style civil police force. These ranks were previously known as inspecteurs if detectives or officiers de la paix if uniformed, although CRS officers always used the current ranks.
  • The Corps de conception et de direction (Conception and Direction Corps) corresponds approximately to the higher commissioned ranks of a military force, or to grades of Chief superintendent and chief officers in a British-style civil police force.

All the ranks insignia may be worn either on the shoulders or on the chest. In the latter they are square-shaped.

Prior to 1995 two civilian corps ("Inspecteurs" and "Enquêteurs") existed in which plainclothes officers were given the training and authority to conduct investigations. The closest American equivalent is the detective.



SP 2022, the present standard issued sidearm of French police officers.
Intervention in 2020 of a police team in Courbevoie. Policemen are equipped with tasers.

In 1935, the French police used a variety of side arms, both revolvers and semi-automatic pistols, notably comprising the MAS 1873, the MAS 1892, the FN M1900, Ruby pistols, and a variety of privately purchased weapons.

Immediately after the Second World War, a variety of military side arms was used, often captured weapons provided by the Army or French-produced German-designed weapons, such as the Mauser HSc or the Walther P38 for sidearms, and the Karabiner 98k rifle.

In 1951, a standardisation was performed on the RR 51 pistol[9] in 7.65×17mm and on the MAS-38 and MAT-49 for submachine guns. From 1953, in the context of heightening violence of the Algeria War, CRS units were upgraded to the 9×19mm MAC Mle 1950.

In the early 1960s, large-caliber revolvers were introduced, culminating with the introduction of the Manurhin MR 73 and the Ruger SP101. In the 80s, a process to standardize revolvers was initiated. The 1970s also saw the introduction of assault rifles[clarification needed] (such as the SIG SG 543) to fend off heavily armed organised crime and terrorism.

In the 2000s, the police started switching to semi-automatic pistols and to the 9×19mm Parabellum cartridge. For some years, the standard sidearm in the National Police and the Gendarmerie Nationale was the PAMAS G1, which was French licensed and made. In 2003 both agencies made the biggest small arms contract since the Second World War[10] for about 250,000 SIG Sauer Pro SP 2022s, a custom-tailored variant of the SIG Pro, replacing the PAMAS-G1 and several other pistols in service. The weapons are planned to stay in service until the year 2022, hence the weapon name. It is possible the pistols will be used past 2022 as the agency purchased more pistols in late 2018 possibly indicating the pistols may be used beyond 2022. [11]

For greater threats the police use slightly modified Ruger Mini-14s purchased in the 1970s. More modern long guns like Remington 870, HK UMP and HK G36 are also issued.

Some sources have claimed the use of the Spectre M4 by the French National Police.


While the vast majority of vehicles are screen printed French brand (mainly Renault, Citroën and Peugeot), some service vehicles are provided by Ford and Opel. Plainclothes officers or specialised branches use vehicles from a variety of manufacturers.


In popular culture[edit]

Television series[edit]

  • Maigret (various television series)
  • The Last Five Minutes (Les cinq dernières minutes) (1958–1996)
  • Navarro (1989–2005)
  • Commissaire Moulin (1976–2006)
  • Police Judiciaire/P.J. (1997–2009)
  • La Crim' (1999–2006)
  • Commissaire Magellan (2009–)
  • Les Cordier juge et flic (1992–2003)
  • Commissaire Cordier (2004–2007)
  • Julie Lescaut (1991–2014)
  • Falco (2013–2016)
  • Commissaire Valence (2002–2008)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Police Nationale - Une force d'action et de protection au service de tous". Archived from the original on 2013-11-03. Retrieved 2013-06-23.
  2. ^ "Loi du 23 avril 1941 portant organisation générale des services de police en France". (in French). March 13, 2008 – via
  3. ^ "Histoire".
  4. ^ "France begins trial of compulsory civic service for teens". France 24. June 16, 2019.
  5. ^ Williamson, Lucy (June 26, 2019). "France's raw recruits sign up for return of national service" – via
  6. ^ [1] Archived April 5, 2004, at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ "Direction des Ressources et des Compétences de la Police Nationale / Organisation - Police nationale - Ministère de l'Intérieur" (in French). Retrieved 2013-03-15.
  8. ^ "Official announcement of the DCRI's launch on the website of the French Ministry of the Interior".
  9. ^ "Nouvelle page 0". Retrieved 2013-03-15.
  10. ^ Ayoob, Massad F.: The Gun Digest Book of SIG-Sauer: A Complete Look at SIG-Sauer Pistols, page 80. Gun Digest, 2004.
  11. ^ "More SIG SP2022s For French Police -". December 5, 2018.

External links[edit]