Students’ representations of and experience with the police. A survey

By Jérémie Gauthier, Jacques de Maillard, and Sophie Peaucellier.

 

Little is known about students’ representations of the police and the gendarmerie forces, or about their everyday experience with those institutions. In this issue of Penal Issues, Jacques de Maillard, Jérémie Gauthier and Sophie Peaucellier present a questionnaire survey of students at the Versailles-Saint Quentin-en-Yvelines University (UVSQ) and Sciences-Po Saint-Germain en Laye.

 

Now that French surveys, following the English-language countries, have taken to studying attitudes toward the police, they are gaining a better understanding of the complex relations between police officers and gendarmes and the various segments of the population1. One major focus of these studies has been the attempt to ascertain on what grounds people judge law-enforcement officers, and above all, to connect these judgments to concrete experience with the police. Three such research projects focus particularly on young people. The study conducted by Nicolas Jounin et al2 among students in the Ile-de-France region deals primarily with the issue of ID checks and the resulting discrimination. The Escapad survey (conducted among young Parisians on their military defense preparation day) provided a more accurate picture of which individuals are given ID checks by the police, on the basis not only of their social attributes, but mainly of their behaviour (participation in fights, for instance) and the neighbourhood they come from3. Last, the survey conducted by Sebastian Roché in the framework of the ANR4 Polis deals with the various aspects of attitudes toward and experience with the police, but focuses on secondary school students5. Our own survey, complementary to the aforementioned, explores the connections between students’ representations and their concrete experience with the police force.

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1 A great many publications are available. See : Sebastian Roché, De la police en démocratie, Paris, Grasset, 2016.

2 Nicolas Jounin et al, Le faciès du contrôle. Contrôle d’identité, apparence et modes de vie des étudiants en Ile-de-France, Déviance et société, 2015, vol. 39, n°1, pp. 3-29.

3 Sophie Peaucellier, Stanislas Spilka, Fabien Jobard, René Lévy, Identity Checks and Youthful Parisians. Analysis of the Paris Section of the 2010 Escapad Survey, 2016, vol. 29, n° 2, pp. 1-4.

4 The Agence nationale de la recherche is the project-based funding agency for research in France.

5 Sandrine Astor, Sebastian Roché, Enquête ‘POLIS-autorité’ : Premiers résultats. Rapport à l’attention de l’Éducation Nationale, 2013.

 

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