National Police (France)

National Police
Police nationale

Patch of the National Police.
Motto Pro patria vigilant[1]
Agency overview
Formed July 9, 1966
Preceding agency Sûreté nationale (1944–1966)
Employees 144,000 (in 2011)
Legal personality Governmental: Government agency
Jurisdictional structure
National agency France
Size 551,695 km²
Population 67,2 million
Governing body Cabinet of France
General nature
Operational structure
Overviewed by Direction générale de la police nationale
Headquarters Paris, France
Minister responsible Bernard Cazeneuve, Ministry of the Interior
Agency executive Jean-Marc Falcone, Director-General
Helicopters 0 see Sécurité Civile
Official website (French)

The National Police (French: Police nationale), formerly the Sûreté nationale, is one of two national police forces 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).

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


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.[2]

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

The Préfet de Police, currently Bernard Boucault, 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

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.[4]


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

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 plain-clothes officers were given the training and authority to conduct investigations. The closest Anglo-American equivalent is the detective.



SP 2022, the present standard issued sidearm of French police officers.

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[5] in 7.65x17mm and on the MAS-38 and MAT-49 for sub-machine guns. From 1953, in the context of heightening violence of the Algeria War, CRS units were upgraded to the 9x19mm MAC Mle 1950

In the early 1960x, 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 (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 9x19mm 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[6] for about 250,000 SIG 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.

For greater threats the police use slightly modified Ruger Mini-14s purchased in the 1970s.


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

See also


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