Youth and crime – The preventive action of the National Gendarmerie in France, 2004

Youth and crime – The preventive action of the National Gendarmerie in France

Gendarmerie is a specific force set up to insure public safety, to provide maintenance of order and to enforce the law. This is the very height of its missions.

For all that, for 15 years, the institution has been developing specific measures in the field of prevention of juvenile delinquency. Drug addiction, citizenship, violence, discrimination, environment constitute some of the main problems that young people meet everyday. In fact, it’s a matter of intervening in aid of the sensitive and most exposed publics as perpetrator or victim.

Prevention of juvenile delinquency, for Gendarmerie, is declined through peculiar safety devices (I), but also as part of partnership and contractual safety (II).


It is carried out either by structures with non-specialized vocation, or by specific personnel or structures.

11. Structures with non-specialized vocation

111. Territorial units

The non-commissioned officers of the territorial units constitute the first-line level of intervention. Their initial and continuous training, their knowledge of people and places acquired through surveillance duties, allows them to play a dominating role and to detect the young people in trouble.

This daily action of proximity policing becomes a reality also by the implementation of a “gendarmerie – state education correspondent” (as a rule, the commander of the post) or a “gendarmerie – school security correspondent”, who, in certain units, insures regular relationships with the school head teacher.

112. Motorcycle units

In the field of road insecurity, the gendarmes, along with persons responsible for road accident prevention, participate in the implementation of training sites for driving.

The intervention for the benefit of the young people turns concrete at each step of the evolution of their personality. The gendarmes have frequent contacts with elementary schools, schools, and secondary schools. They are brought to adapt their messages of prevention according to the approached subject and to the age of the young people constituting their public.

12. Specific personnel or structures

121. Anti-Drugs Relay Trainers (FRAD)

In 1990, the gendarmerie set up first Anti-Drugs Relay Trainers (FRAD). Originally having a vocation to form their colleagues in the field of drug addiction, they were quickly requested by schools. There are at present 582 FRAD on the national territory. They carry out a consequent work of awareness on the danger of drugs for the benefit of school teenagers.

122. Relay Trainers for Environment and Ecology (FREE)

Relay Trainers for Environment and Ecology (FREE) were “born” in 1993. 450 trainers, besides their qualification in the field of criminal investigation, intervene during conferences in schools and secondary schools. Instilling in young people the respect for the environment, making them responsible for this question, become a full part of their preventive and educational mission.

123. Youth referents and youth correspondents

Placed respectively at French territorial division (department and division larger than a canton but smaller than a department), they follow the evolution of the juvenile delinquency in their district.

124. Juvenile Delinquency Prevention Brigades

To face the increase of urban violence, the gendarmerie established in 1997 juvenile delinquency prevention brigades (BPDJ) in some priority departments. These units intervene essentially in sensitive suburban areas. With a minimum strength of six non-commissioned officers, of whom two high ranking, a feminine personnel and a FRAD. They work to retie the social link between police and young people in the suburbs.

They are 40 units on the national territory and their four main missions can be summarized in :

– Prevention (presence in difficult areas, information in schools or in organizations, associating with young people and their families, recall to regulations) ;

– Information (knowledge of social environment, risk estimation, authorities’ information) ;

– Accompanying intervention (adapting safety response to the local needs) ;

– Promoting partnership action (participation to interdepartmental and contractual devices).

These units, according to local priorities, develop some particular juvenile prevention programmes. Theses programmes are written on good practises forms and put on line on Gendarmerie’s Intranet site.

Among significant experimental practises, we can notice :

 “Listening Gendarmerie points” :

Gendarmes of BPDJ, in contact with other personnel of territorial units and with the authorization of the head teacher, operate periodically a basic service in schools and secondary schools during students’ free hours.  The young people may meet gendarmes and mention their troubles alone or in little groups. This device allows creating a relationship of trust between the young people and the security forces. This type of initiative permits also to make a part of dark number emerging, especially in the field of family violence, sexual violence or racketeering.

Simulation of a penal trial :

Each year, young people aged between 11 and 13 participate to a simulation of a penal trial.

The main target of this experimentation is :

–         to explain penal politics to the young people with some concrete examples ;

–         to observe the progress of a penal trial in some real affairs concerning car thefts or car theft bids with several perpetrators, violation and profanation of graves, threats of destruction with a false bomb, etc. ;

–         to help the young people to be conscious of the responsibility and the consequences of their behaviour when they are about to commit a crime ;

–         to dissuade them to commit injuries by a better information about the penal sanctions.

The implication of the French Gendarmerie in the early prevention – “Charlie and Oscar’s travels”

One BPDJ has created, in partnership with national education, an educational game for the young people aged between five and six years old. The target is to prevent property and people’s attacks and to make young people sensitive to his own respect and others.

This project is equally destined to children who are not able to read. It makes them turn to the competent adult when they have to face a difficulty.

The secondary school pupils are associated to the manufacture of the educational tool. They can actively help the youngster in the field of prevention.

At last, this game constitutes a communication’s tool between the pupils, adolescents and gendarmes.

Others prevention projects are elaborated in prospect to prevent drug addiction, school bullying, sexual violence, racketeering, sport violence, road insecurity and Internet dangers. Others still contribute to develop citizenship and the respect for the environment.

Participation to citizenship and relatives’ training periods

These training periods are aimed for young first time offenders implicated in minor injuries (insult, little damages, etc.). They constitute an alternative to legal proceedings to help young people to assume responsibility for their actions and to know what they incur in matter of punishment.

Several BPDJ intervene not only for the young people but also for their parents in the framework of relatives’ training periods. Still at the experimental level, these training periods are functioning with a large partnership and aim to make parents responsible when their children are spotted in the framework of school absenteeism. The target is to remind parents their rights and duties and to inform them about punishment.

In 2003, 465 501 persons were concerned by an intervention of BPDJ in the field of prevention.


Preventive action of the Gendarmerie is exerted on the young people for a large part. But it can be revealed by an increased participation in different contractual devices.

21. Gendarmes and young people

Gendarmes intervene within particular structures specific to the national education or to the urban policy where crime prevention is dealt with. Action towards the minors is led at two levels, that of the young people but also that of their parents.

211. The education committees for health and citizenship (CESC)

These committees associate the all staff of schools, the pupils, the parents and the partners of the State education. Their objective is to allow a better prevention of teenager’s hazardous behaviours (drug addiction, alcohol, tobacco, violence, suicide, etc.). Beyond these aspects, the CESC ambition is to develop behaviour of responsible and tolerant citizens. Set up in July 1st, 1998, this CESC exists in one school and secondary school out of tree. The objective is to generalize them. Gendarmes regularly intervene in these committees. They bring their experiences, inform young people about various dangers and deviancies which threaten them while inciting them to respect the rules.

 212. The local educational contracts (CEL)

These contracts develop particular educational notions about environment and health where the help brought by gendarmes can be sought. The FREE and the FRAD along with the BPDJ, without forgetting the  “gendarmerie – State education correspondents” or “gendarmerie – school security correspondent”, are brought to participate actively in the partnership established within the framework of CEL.

214. Prevention during holidays

Since 1982, structures of crime prevention gathering the various actors in charge of security issues have been established. After 1981 and Vénissieux’s incidents start the “summer operations of prevention” (OPE) with an objective: to keep young people busy. These structures evolved gradually towards education to citizenship.

In 1995, these operations took the naming “City, life, holidays”. This program wants to answer four ambitions, namely, crime and non-civic behaviour prevention during the holidays, the revitalization of districts in crisis, the durable insertion of young people on the fringe, and social solidarity. The concerned young people (about 800.000 minors) are between 11 and 18 years old.

Various ministries participate in these operations: the Ministry delegated to the city, the Ministry of Employment and solidarity, the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Sport, the Ministry of the Interior, the ministry of Development, Transport and Housing, the Ministry for the Arts and the Ministry of Defence.

In 2003, 10.033 young people have benefited implication of national gendarmerie in the framework of this several ministerial device.

215. Plans to Welcome Young People in the Municipalities Popular with the Tourists (PAJECOT)

To face seasonal migrations and tourists influx to holiday places, plans to welcome the young people in the municipalities popular with the tourists (PAJECOT) were set up. This process begins with a security diagnosis of sites susceptible to welcome young people. This diagnosis, elaborated at a local level, is realized by representatives of the prefecture, the public prosecutor, the mayor council, the municipal agents, the gendarmerie and the police forces.

At the end, a local team is appointed to lead actions on the ground by notably playing a role of mediation between young people, security forces, people working in the tourist industry and tourists.

A cell of watch, articulated around the Local Council for Security and Prevention (CLSPD), made of elected members of the mayor council, persons responsible for security, people working in the tourist industry and responsible for the educational team, meets regularly to settle possible problems.

22. Partnership and safety

221. Local contracts for security

Since 1997, the procedure of the local contracts for security (CLS) which represents an additional step in the consideration of the phenomena of insecurity and notably those connected with juvenile delinquency has been adopted. The repressive aspect is, of course, not pushed aside. The CLS bases on a diagnosis of difficulties met on a determined territory. It sets up a particularly wide partnership and associates representatives of State services, all the mayor council, associations, various social and professional categories, having to know about security problems. It tries hard to make the population participate in its own security. At the end of the diagnosis, priorities are made clear and result in an action plan with operational action indexes. The CLS constitutes a means to consider juvenile delinquency with a new acuteness thanks to the methodology used. The CLS has vocation to become the thematic contract for a wider contract : the city contract (CDV), which, besides the aspect of crime prevention, is interested in the urban, economic and social aspects in the wider perspective to contain all the daily life problems of the cities inhabitants.

222. Local Council for Security and Prevention (CLSPD)

Since 17th July 2002, new organizations have been set up. They are called Local Councils for Security and Prevention (CLSPD). They are placed under the presidency of the mayor. These organizations constitute a new stage in the contractualization of the security, after the Municipal Committees for Crime Prevention (CCPD).

They are made up of three colleges (1. local representatives, 2. section or department head, 3. members resulted from social society designated by the president of the Local Council for Security and Prevention). These organizations take account of acquired experience. They want to reinforce security and operational way of action.

They constitute the support of local contracts for security and it’s a means for the mayors to be more effectively informed actors about security problems.

Juvenile delinquency constitutes the first main axle of work in the framework of theses devices.

Author : Gendarmerie Nationale Headquarters                                                                                             April 6th, 2004