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In Thrall to Political ChangePolice and Gendarmerie in France$
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Malcolm Anderson

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199693641

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:osobl/9780199693641.001.0001

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Mythologized Founding Fathers

Mythologized Founding Fathers

(p.21) 1 Mythologized Founding Fathers
In Thrall to Political Change

Malcolm Anderson

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines the myth about the omnipresence of the police in France. It first considers the reputation of the police as spies and agents provocateurs before turning to Eugène-François Vidocq (1775–1857), former head of Sûreté who captured the French imagination concerning the role and the nature of criminal investigation police. It then analyses the police’s connection with the criminal milieu given their use of criminals as informants, along with the belief that political considerations can sometimes influence criminal law enforcement. The chapter concludes with a discussion of the negative image of the police due to brutality, arbitrary behaviour, corruption, and lack of education.

Keywords:   police, spies, agents provocateurs, Eugène-François Vidocq, Sûreté, criminal investigation, criminals, informants, law enforcement, image

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