The legislative powers of the police to stop individuals

In France, we rather speak of “identity checks”, i.e. the act of an agent of the public authority consisting of asking an individual, under conditions imposed by the law, to justify his or her identity. Identity checks are mainly governed by the provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CPP, Code de procedure pénale) headed “Identity inspections and identity checks” (Art. 78-1 to 78-6 CPP). These measures can be either repressive, targeting people suspected of having committed an offence, or preventive, when used to stop people who are suspected of planning to commit an offence. Under Article 78-2, a prosecutor can authorise the police to conduct a time-limited search in a specific area (known for being vulnerable to crime). Under these conditions, the identity of any person can be checked.

The obligation to register stops

There is no obligation to register stop and search.

Legislation procedures which protect citizens from police offences

There is a body of laws and regulations (criminal code, administrative law, internal regulations) which constrain de jure the activities of police officers. Since 2014, a code of ethics has been enacted. Individuals can complain to:


Annotated bibliography on France

Blog Understanding the Practice of Police Stops in Europe – ID checks in France