Riot police in France have described as “absurd” measures to stop them drinking alcohol on the job. Members of the CRS, which is called up to deal with internal unrest in the country, have until now been allowed to drink a beer or a glass of wine with their lunch.
But after several officers were photographed swigging beers during a student protest last October, management has responded by issuing a blanket ban on the consumption of any alcohol during working hours. The CRS has been repeatedly criticised in the past for its forceful response to demonstrations, including those involving high school students which have turned violent. They are asked to intervene quickly in case of disturbances, and are sometimes left no choice but to take their lunch break in the street. An internal memo sent back in 1989 allowed their meal to be accompanied by an alcoholic drink.
A new memo sent recently changes all that, bringing the CRS into line with police in other countries like Britain, where officers are strictly banned from touching alcohol while on the job.
The main police union, the SGP-FO, told lefigaro.fr: “It’s quite simply absurd”. Firstly, the union argues it was not consulted by management. It adds that “just because we have the right to have a beer or a glass of wine, it doesn’t mean we’re drunk.”
The union has written to management to complain of what it says is an “over the top” measure and has not ruled out further action if the ban is not withdrawn.