French police: Photo contest aims to show job misery

Image sent to UPNI Image copyright UPNI
Image caption Cockroaches featured in more than one picture sent to the police union

Dilapidated buildings, blocked urinals, broken-down cars - all feature in a photo "contest" aimed at highlighting poor conditions and shoddy equipment facing many French police employees.

It is being run by a collective of French police groups - the Union of National and Independent Police (UPNI).

The union decided to use humorous means to make a serious point about working conditions.

The deadline is 10 September. Hundreds of images have already been submitted.

The UPNI, which describes itself as "apolitical", was born in the heat of protests by police last October.

It said the purpose of the contest was to "share an unknown part of the daily life of certain police offices" and this was only the "tip of the iceberg".

Many of the images suggest some police squad cars are not up to the job. Bosses at the main DGPN police directorate reportedly suggested some of the pictures were out of date, so some of them have a reference to the day's date.

Image copyright UPNI
Image caption In a rack for squad car keys, most are placed in the area for "broken down vehicles" - only two seem to be working
Image copyright UPNI
Image caption This image of an odometer on a squad car dashboard suggests the vehicle has half a million kilometres (310,000 miles) on the clock
Image copyright UPNI
Image caption This car key has seen better days
Image copyright UPNI
Image caption Ripped upholstery in a squad car - many images include newspapers to show they are current

"We want our leaders and our citizens to understand, too, that if security is too expensive, we will eventually experience insecurity," the UPNI said.

The images have not been verified, but the UPNI says once the contest is finished it will invite journalists to visit some of the premises featured in person.

A selection of some of the images posted on the UPNI Facebook page prompted shocked reactions.

Some commentators complained of the "shame" of the situation while others said facilities were not adequate for police officers working long hours.

Image copyright UPNI
Image caption Clothes drying on the front of a police vehicle
Image copyright UPNI
Image caption Getting some rest on the floor of the vehicle compound

A series of jihadist attacks and outbreaks of civil unrest have placed an increasing burden on police in recent years, with many taking on additional duties, working unpaid overtime or facing cancelled holidays.

Many say they face a growing security risk, but do not have the kit or conditions to protect themselves adequately.

Matters came to a head last October, when four officers were pelted with petrol bombs by youths in the town of Viry-Chatillon outside Paris, with one officer falling into a coma and nearly dying of his burns.

That prompted thousands of officers to take to the streets for consecutive nights of unauthorised protests.

Other images sent to the UPNI concern allegedly dilapidated facilities and infrastructure.

Image copyright UPNI
Image caption Blocked urinals
Image copyright UPNI
Image caption Run-down buildings
Image copyright UPNI
Image caption "Access to the balcony is forbidden. Cracks and risk of falling!"
Image copyright UPNI
Image caption A sink in poor repair

Last October France's outgoing government promised €250m (£230m; $300m) to replace obsolete equipment and refurbish police buildings.

But the UPNI argues much of that money was swallowed up by the counter-terrorism effort and it fears conditions could further deteriorate as France's new government vows to tackle its public debt.

Participants have until 10 September to submit their images and a "winning" photo will be chosen. An internet gallery will be published on the 16th, says UPNI.

Image copyright UPNI
Image caption A door handle is held together with an elastic band

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