Police files: litigation against the abuse of the “Automatic Control System” file

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We have just filed an litigation statement before the Conseil d’État (French supreme administrative court) against the extension of the scope of the file of the “Système de contrôle automatisé” (SCA; Automatic Control System). Since April, this file allows retaining for 5 to 10 years information concerning any violation or offence that leads to payment of a fine. We are attacking this Nth criminal file.

The SCA — a.k.a. ADOC, for “Access to the record of crimes” — is a criminal file that was designed, before April, to record driving offences. In April, during the lock-down, the government abused this file to keep information about failure to respect the lock-down obligations. The police and gendarmerie proceeded to use it to identify recidivists to imprison them1Failure to respect the lock-down obligations, even today, can subject you to a fine of 135€, but repeated violations can effectually send you to prison..

Because at the time the legal framework didn’t permit retaining information other than driving offences, the legal procedures have been overturned and the involved people freed.

No matter. Because the courts scolded the police for using this file illegally, the police — through the Homeland Minister — changed the legal framework. And that is how, since mid-April 2020, any violation subject to a fine will be recorded in this file for 5 years (for simple violations) to 10 years (for more serious offences).

Other than this ugly method unworthy of a state of law, this highlights the disturbing way of keeping track of the population. No only are the infractions covered trivial2It is exactly because these infractions are “mild” that you can decide to pay a fine rather than going before a court., but there are many of them. So you can find yourself in this police file for an unauthorized Eiffel Tower street trading, for simple possession of cannabis, for illegal rubbish dump3The police often punishes fly-posting by activists with a fine for illegal rubbish dump., for taking part in a demonstration forbidden on a public street, or even, since the end of October, for not respecting the new lock-down obligations. And this list is far from exhaustive: we have identified 10 offences and 30 misdemeanors which, just because they can subject you to a fine, will result in being recorded in this new police file. And for a rather long period.

Because of this file, police impunity must once again be denounced. The government goes against the state of law to reach its goals: put people under surveillance, send them to prison, and repress them ever more harshly. It is firmly established, nonetheless, that such police files always lead to abuses — the TAJ or drones are only two examples in a sea of arbitrariness.

References

1 Failure to respect the lock-down obligations, even today, can subject you to a fine of 135€, but repeated violations can effectually send you to prison.
2 It is exactly because these infractions are “mild” that you can decide to pay a fine rather than going before a court.
3 The police often punishes fly-posting by activists with a fine for illegal rubbish dump.