back to article French cops claimed to hold secret, illegal gypsy database

The French national police force – la Gendarmerie – yesterday stood accused of operating a secret and illegal database of Roma and other travelling minorities. The existence of this database was reported in great detail in yesterday's Le Monde. It came to light by chance, when a 48-page powerpoint presentation, prepared by a …


This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    On the other hand

    Given the crime that follows places "settled" by "Roma" (if you replace "Roma" with "pikey", would these articles read differently) including - I might point out - a group of them beating up a mayor's secretary for the town's efforts to move them on [Melesse, 35] would it not make some sort of sense that the Gendarmes wish to keep tabs on people of the same general demographic, especially given their transitory nature.

    The alternative, if there is a particularly viscious gang doing the regions, would the populace accept "oh, we can't keep track of anybody like that because its against their human rights"? How about we consider the rights of law-abiding tax-payers first?

    1. Marvin the Martian
      Big Brother

      I'm with you, but let's think further!

      Given that almost all crime is committed by people, why don't we make the database a bit more complete and put all the data on everybody (including DNA)? That would make much more sense. And collect as much info as possible, and cram it all in there.

    2. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge
      Thumb Down

      The police may keep tabs on criminals and suspects

      but it ends there! If they have committed a crime: arrest them, prosecute them, and after serving time you are quite entitled to keep an eye on them.

      Those that have not committed a crime: leave them alone. Besides, by criminalizing the people before they have committed any offense, they will not think more kindly of authority, and of "regular citizens." Besides, your argument runs uncomfortably close to those used by the instigators of many pogroms in the past. Let the police investigate how much crime is actually caused, and identify the individual responsible, that is their job. However, if they put ALL Roma in a single database, they are adding hay to a stack, rather than finding any needles.

      This is very much a slippery slope. Police might want to keep tabs on anyone who takes photographs of "important" buildings, because some of them might be gathering intelligence for terrorists.

      Or maybe they are doing that already?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        But most *are* law breakers

        I believe that French law currently stipulates that Roma - or for that matter any other EU citizen from the newer states admitted into the EU - must be in employment or they must leave the country within a few months.

        The EU has allowed them this right, and the French are perfectly within their rights to tear down shanty towns full of people that are unemployed and in the country illegally. These people are at best a drain on social security, and at worst a threat to public safety.

        France has every right to expel immigrants from their own country when said immigrants refuse to comply with the rules.

        1. Robert Carnegie Silver badge


          "I believe that French law currently stipulates that Roma - or for that matter any other EU citizen from the newer states admitted into the EU - must be in employment or they must leave the country within a few months."

          So it's "Arbeit macht frei"? Really?

    3. Intractable Potsherd

      @Original Poster AC

      I think you have missed something - the term is *human* rights, not tax-payers rights. Human rights accrue from the simple fact of being human - no more is required.


  2. mulder

    probbally a database of criminals

    And that a high percentage of the criminals is roma is not something you can blame the French.

    All the EU countries should deport criminal non-nationals.

  3. Kevin Johnston


    If the details reported are correct then it would not be so much secret as "undisclosed" since all the police officers seem to know about it. Hard to call it secret once the audience goes above 1,000.

    Of course the difficulty now is that you cannot prove a non-existence, just like you cannot prove a lack of bias (racial, religious, sex etc etc et *********** cetra) so j'accuse will be just as destructive for the French police as 'institutional racism' has been for the UK police. Once the label is in place you have to go to opposite extremes to combat it meaning that every interaction with the public is held up to scrutiny by anyone with an agenda and laden with invective from every side in the media.

  4. Dan 55 Silver badge
    Big Brother

    Not that surprising

    It's just another part of the great database, it's not like non-Roma or non-Gypsies have escaped being catalogued, filed, numbered, etc...

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    First of all, la Gendarmerie is not the French National police force. The French have three main independent police forces, La Police Nationale, La Police Municipale and La Gendarmerie. Les Gendarmes are actually military but they perform policing duties in rural areas, while La Police National (the guys you're talking about when you say "the police") are concerned more with towns.

    Now, as quoted in your article, French law applies to French citizens, not foreigners on French soil. If those foreigners are European citizens then they are protected by the agreements of the member states. The only legal boo boo that France has made in the Roms squabble is that a circular by some civil servant mentioned them by name.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re : application of French law

      I'm a little bit puzzled about the argument for the law not applying to visitors to France. I can understand non-citizens being subject to specific laws, eg those related to limiting length of stay, but I would expect general laws which are in place for the benefit of society and the individuals within it to apply to all, no matter what their origin.

      In particular if 'Human rights' laws only apply to certain people (ie citizens), then they are hardly 'Human Rights' at all.

      I've always assumed that UK law applies equally to all (politicians & celebs aside). I'd hate to see the apparent French view become commonplace here.

    2. heyrick Silver badge

      More precisions...

      "French law applies to French citizens, not foreigners on French soil."

      What the hell? It's crap like this that somebody says that does the rounds of the ex-pat community and gets regurgitated like a bad game of Chinese Whispers...

      When as a member of the public in France, French national or not, I have to abide by the laws and rules of France. It is *that* simple.

      Don't take my word for it, the exact phrase (in English) is "Statutes relating to public policy and safety are binding on all those living on the territory." - you will find the English Language version of Légifrance at or in French "Les lois de police et de sûreté obligent tous ceux qui habitent le territoire." which can be read at [ridiculously long URL in Légifrance - if you doubt me, use ] It has been this way since the last revision of this part of the code civil in 1803!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        yes but..

        Keep your shirt on, the French Law being referred to here relates to the obligations of the state towards its citizens, not the other way round. Of course, being on French soil means that you are bound by French law, but citizens and non-citizens have different rights under the constitution. It is that simple.

  6. bill 36

    Travelling in a foreign country

    because the very first article of the French Constitution asserts that the Republic "guarantees the equality before the law of all citizens, irrespective of racial origin or religion".?

    Well thats a stupid argument! They are not French citizens! They are from Romania and the French police presumably wanted to keep an eye on the criminal activities of some of them. Whats the problem? Most of Europe requires immigrants to register with the police when you move into a community.

    No matter what we might think, the police and the locals all know that when they roll into town and park up, up goes the crime rate and it requires bulldozers to repair the land once they leave while paying nothing towards any public service.

    1. Sheherazade

      Roma is not Romania

      Some Roma folks do come from Romania, but they are not Romanians. They represent a different ethnic group. The trouble with Roma is that they do not want to work, they do not accept state education and generally they do not want to integrate. As a Romanian, I agree with the French authorities. What I do not agree is that continuous confusion: ah, their name is Roma, they come from Romania, so the entire Romania is inhabited by Roma. Romanians do not have any chance to defend themselves. I must speak English when I travel to Western Europe just to be treated courteously.

  7. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Scanning now...

    "It is at the heart of government that the most serious threat to social order is to be found".


  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Well, you know what's going to happen next

    A database scoped to contain Far Too Much Information on Everyone, Everywhere. Doesn't even need to contain actually everything on everyone, only potentially. Fill-as-you-go. Start with everything you have, add more as you get your grubby paws on it. Egality, fershure.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Just getting ready for next time

    The Vichy government was by many accounts at least as efficient at tracing and arresting Jews as the Nazis, and even more 'draconian' at determining who was considered 'Jewish' and who was not by reference to ancestry. This all smells of anticipation.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Yes, and their railway system is incredibly efficient, too.

    2. DrXym

      Not the same

      These people are not French citizens. They entered the country illegally, set up in illegal encampments and then proceded to engage in all kinds of anti social behaviour - begging, benefit fraud, theft etc. I think France are fully within their rights to send them back to whence they came, making reasonable efforts first to verify they are foreign nationals, taking account of any mititgating circumstances etc. I also hope that repeat offenders get to enjoy instant deportation for any subsequent attempt made. Too bad the entire EU doesn't follow a 1 strike and you're out rule.

      1. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

        They are - I assume - EU citizens.

        If France wants to leave the EU, fine by me. Then they won't have British imports for their farmers to burn, either, and will have to burn their own.

    3. blackworx


      That was constructive


  10. Eric Hood


    This reminds me of a book I read about the Hells Angels motorcycle club. The police say they are a criminal organisation, they say "we are a club and some of our members are criminals."

    I would expect any database to be able to produce the required information with a simple search.

    Presumably left handed red haired musicians are also discriminated against.

    1. blackworx

      Argh Dichotomy

      Fundamentally opposed to such obvious profiling and discrimination.

      On the other hand, a world without Mick Hucknall....

  11. kissingthecarpet
    Big Brother

    Fair enough

    The argument that they're foreigners & have to be monitored etc seems to make sense, however, you bet that their database didn't discriminate on that basis. I'm sure everyone was lumped in together, foreign or not, based purely on their ethnic origin, not nationality. The French police certainly are not the British cops - they're more authoritarian,right -wing, & more keen on hitting people. I imagine a lot of them come over all misty-eyed when the word 'vichy' is heard, and they're not thinking of mineral water.

    1. Keith 21
      Big Brother


      "The French police certainly are not the British cops - they're more authoritarian,right -wing, & more keen on hitting people. "

      Sounds VERY much like the British police to me - they are not as different as you seek to suggest, alas.

  12. Gene Cash Silver badge

    Are they citizens?

    Apparently not. Thus no protection under the French constitution. Problem solved.

    Tell 'em to pay taxes and obey the law, or GTFO.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Re: Are they citizens?

      "Apparently not."

      Of France, but they are presumably European Union citizens unless Romania has managed to deny them that as well.

      "Thus no protection under the French constitution. Problem solved."

      It would surprise me a great deal if "anything goes" just because someone isn't mentioned in someone else's constitution. In fact, countries generally have to be nice to each other's citizens, and that is particularly the case when both countries are part of what is effectively a political union that the EU is all about.

      "Tell 'em to pay taxes and obey the law, or GTFO."

      As for obeying the law, it has been suggested as a result of actual social studies (rather than the Daily Fail rants in this forum so far) that some immigrant groups require help integrating into wider society. Now that might mean that someone has to put up the resources to make this happen, but it's clearly worth doing so - otherwise, the people you tell to "GTFO" will "CTFB" later.

      As for institutionalised racism in France, just ask any non-white person who has had to live there.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

        1. Anonymous Coward

          Re: *ahem*

          "I agree, but if you have any idea about the Roma you'll know it's futile for 99% of them. They don't want to integrate, or obey laws, and they really don't want to work."

          Who are "they"? I saw a report recently where the social work going on had the Italian state (or maybe a province, specifically) tying benefits to children's school attendance, mostly because the parents were socially conditioned into thinking that having their children begging was more beneficial than sending them to school (and maybe their core income depended on it, too). The parents may not like it, but the children deserve better.

          You have to start somewhere, and that goes for the average "native", too. Education is neglected in many countries - people living in Britain should take a good luck at the nation's decline in terms of the decline in education (and not in terms of the usual immorality excuses that we'll undoubtedly be hearing from the Tories) - and the only way to break the malaise is to help the younger generations out before it's too late for them.

          1. This post has been deleted by its author

            1. Intractable Potsherd

              So what's the answer?

              Maybe there should be special places for the Roma and other groups that run counter to "society". Maybe these places could be called "camps" so they appeal to the travelling community. There, they could be educated into how to gain employment - let's call them "work camps" for short. Perhaps it is something to do with their attention span, so the camps could specialise on that - we could call them "concentration camps". Perhaps this inability to "concentrate" an intrinsic factor of being Roma or one of the other groups, so they are different from real humans - not as good, somehow, maybe "sub-human". There needs to be some sort of solution to deal with them permanently ... and what would we call that?

              Seriously, the lack of tolerance on here has sickened me. It isn't the Roma that are of questionable humanity.

              1. foo_bar_baz

                Nice play, Godwin. I see your "society" and raise you a "tolerant".

                What sickens me is when you can't even have a conversation without being called a Nazi. I find this deliciously ironic since usually it's me at the head of the self flagellation brigade going left wing on the Yanks' asses on Slashdot.

                It seems it's "inhuman" and "intolerant" to say anything conceivably negative in conjunction with the name of a minority group. The fact that person X committed a crime just *cannot* be related to his ethnic, cultural or geographic background, it must be another reason. Let's willfully ignore the facts and just treat every crime on a case by case basis, let's never get to the source.

                "Madrid police say that 95% of children under 14 that they pick up stealing on the streets are Roma from Romania."


                No, Roma are not all thieves. Yes, they deserve the protection of the law. Yes, they should be treated with respect. No, it's *not* intolerant or inhuman to recognize a problem and state the facts.

                I'm not pretending there's an easy answer, but it's not your straw man nor your ostrich method.

                1. Intractable Potsherd


                  There was no Godwin, but I was pointing out that there seems to be a lot of "these people" type talk on the forum. Once that gains traction, it is a "them v us" situation. There had been a poster that seemed to be saying that Roma can't be educated using the usual means, and so I was pointing out the dangers in that attitude.

                  The problem with arrest statistics is that they are self-fulfilling once typing gets hold. 1. Arrest person of profile X: 2. Get conviction: 3. Arrest another person of profile X: 4. Get conviction: 5. Concentrate on people of profile X: 6. Get more convictions ... and so on. The fact that the convictions may be easier to get because of some factor unrelated to X never gets mentioned. Maybe the people don't get adequate legal representation, or they don't understand the language, or they don't understand the law in that place. These don't matter - it is just the rate of conviction that feeds into a loop. That is intolerance.

                  There is only relevant factor in all crime - the fact that the perpetrators are human. Nothing else matters, unless it is to ensure more tolerance, not less, to groups of profile X.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Pay taxes

      Can we get the owners of the Telegraph and "Lord" Ashcroft to do the same please? is from the Times not exactly a lefty paper

  13. Eddy Ito

    Move along, nothing to see here

    What's that? Oh you are moving along, how nice. Feel free to not look again.

  14. James 85


    Vive le Pikeybase Internationale.

  15. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    The trouble with this sort of database.

    Once it's set up you can dial in the group you want to discriminate against at *will*.

    We all know where this can end.

    Do they have groups of children begging on the streets of Paris and running social security scams in France?

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Totally off topic or what?

    This post has nothing to do with the article. Nothing at all really apart from maybe a most tenuous, fragile, sinuous link to "law".

    This post really has quite a lot to do with the nefarious conduct of some Europeans (from the other side wink-wink if you know what I mean) in using kit to take money without the users express consent.

    And it took a multi-national law enforcement get together (or so it seems) tp apprehend the perps.

    See! Told you! It has nothing to do with the article at all, at all! But I am lazy and cannot be bothered looking for the proper article - it is probably history anyway?

    Anyway, what is AC, this AC prattling on about?

    Ans: Hold your breathe and behave yourselves!

    What if, for the other perps that is, they were to employ a super-duper legal team that offered defence along lines of: well wot we dun gov is not too unlike wot your own financial services people have dun so kan we pleez hav the same protekshun az thay haz had?

    We'll do evryfink they hav dun and 'elp you more (honest guv!) but if your opwn financial people can do it without prosecution why can't we?

    Basis: precedence has been set under Common Law of England.

  17. Anonymous Coward

    Caravan Ho!

    Roma, Roma, Roma, keep them doggies rollin'......

  18. Anonymous Coward

    Really and great surprise?

    Are we all freaking out because the NAZI's did this 70-odd years ago and we know all about that tragic episode in humanity's history or are we just bothered by more databases coming up?

    I would be really surprised if the French Gov DIDN'T have DBs on most facets of civilian life in France.

  19. TeeCee Gold badge

    Oh that's just great!

    The French have developed an illegal Gypsy database?

    Marvellous. Now we'll have bloody databases wandering around the country and nicking anything that ain't nailed down.....

  20. Lottie

    What worries me most

    ... is that on a website like this with supposedly reasonable people posting, there is an awful lot of "well these people" type comments that are best suited to the Daily Mail or similar.

    Yes, there are some Roma who are criminals. There are many non Roma who are also criminals. There are I suppose there are also many Roma who aren't.

    I wonder how some of the posters here came up with the statistics they have "90%" of these people.

    "These people don't want to integrate into society"

    Kind of a vicious circle methinks - Why would you want to be integrated into a society with this sort of attutude?

    1. Intractable Potsherd


      ... thank you for that post - I was seriously starting to wonder if I was alone.

  21. bill 36

    ethnic populations

    Fact is

    If you ask at your local authority in every european country, they can supply statistics on every minority who live in a community. They do this for public service planning reasons but of course these DATABASES can be used for more draconian measures.

    I for one am so pissed off with the PC, health and safety and human rights dogooders that are so prevalent nowadays.

    The fact is, every european citizen, Roma included, have the right to live and WORK in any other european country under the laws of that state. But they have to obey the rules whether they like it or not and if they don't, then THEY have to take responsibility for THEIR actions.

    Thats the way it is, we are all in a database somewhere and while the vast majority are law abiding tax paying citizens, those who choose not to comply can expect to be treated with contempt.

    And its easy, fill the form in, supply a copy of your passport, register with the local authority, apply for housing, go to the local job centre, learn the language.

    If not GTFO as somebody has so eloquently explained in a previous post.

    Furthermore, since we live in a democracy and not as some would have us believe under some nazi dictatorship, those who want a free for all can quite simply vote for the party that will deliver a politically correct, totally safe and healthy environment with complete human rights for all irrespective of whether they are state spongers or criminals; while having no cars, no concrete no co2 emissions, no chemicals and no aircraft. No mobile phones and no internet.

    Lets see how long we survive under that kind of regime.


    1. Lottie

      The issue here

      isn't the use of databases, nor of governemnts having databases of ethnic populations in their country. That the governemtns have them is a fact of life.

      The problem here comes from the police appearing to have a database that was created illegally, not to monitor the make up of the city, but to monitor and single out one specific ethnic group. Unless there is reasonable cause to monitor *every* Roma, why do they want ebvery single one on there? Sure, if a person is a convicted criminal, it kind of makes a bit of sense under some circumstances to keep an eye on them. There are already databases of criminals. Of all creeds, colours and ethnicities. The police don't need one just for them.

      Another way to look at it is that it's often wrongly assumed that every soccer fan is a racist, violent yob. Should the police have a special database concentrating solely on people who have a season ticket? I think not.

  22. Anonymous Coward

    Totally off topic ... part 2

    Has the defendant anything to say to the court before sentence?

    Ah yes please.

    We only shaft you a little bit and you want to put us in jail.

    Your own financial people shaft you a big bit and you do not put them in jail then go on to make sure that they get great big bonus.

    Maybe next time we shaft you very, very, very big time and you will also give us plenty big bonus too? No?


This topic is closed for new posts.

Other stories you might like