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You are here: Home / MY MUNICIPALITY / Public institutions / Police / Role

What are the police's duties ?

The role of the municipal authorities is to maintain and restore public order, defined in article 135 §2 of the new municipal law as including public cleanliness, healthiness, safety (security) and quietness.
It is the mayor's responsibility in particular to take all the measures necessary to maintain public order. The municipal council can pass regulations on the matter. These are what are called general administrative police orders, as opposed to the special administrative police orders provided for in particular laws.

Municipal council's regulatory power and mayor's enforcement power

 The municipal council is the only body with the power to make regulations of a general nature, which will apply :

  •  to all citizens or certain categories of them ;
  • throughout the municipality or in certain parts of it ;
  • and for an indefinite period, with no time limit.

The mayor, meanwhile, has a general administrative police power which is almost always specific to individuals. This means that he can only take particular measures, which are therefore applicable :

  • to a single person or a very small number of people ;
  • in a very specific part of the municipality, where there is or could be trouble ;
  • and for a set period or period which can be set.

Both the municipal council and the mayor will base their administrative police responsibilities on article 135 §2 of the new municipal law. When necessary, the mayor can also base it on a municipal council police regulation.

Municipal council orders and mayor's decrees

With regard to actions to take, the distribution of powers explained in the previous point is translated into a distinction between :

  • municipal council actions, in the form of regulations which the law describes as "police orders" ;
  • the actions of the mayor who can, in accordance with the new municipal law, issue "police decrees".

A very exceptional case : the mayor's order

In certain, very exceptional, cases, the mayor will have a regulatory police power, that is to say which is general in nature. In this case, the mayor will issue a police order in the place of the municipal council.

However, this power is limited in two ways :

  • it applies only to very serious situations (disasters, riots, very great dangers, etc. which place the inhabitants' safety in imminent danger) ;
  • it implies compliance with a special procedure, which involves :
  1. immediate communication of the order, giving the reasons for it, to the members of the municipal council (which will usually involve delivering a letter to the home of each of them) ;
  2. a requirement for it to be confirmed by the municipal council at the first meeting after the order is issued, failing which it will cease to be effective.

Publication and notification

Issuing an order differs from issuing a decree also in terms of how it is published.

As council police orders are of a general nature, they must :

  • like all regulations, be publicly displayed ;
  • be recorded in the register of resolutions ;
  • and a copy must be despatched:
  1. to the supervisory authority, within 48 hours of the resolution being passed ;
  2. to the clerk's offices of the courts of first instance and the local police, when they are adopted.

Finally, they must be recorded in the province's official journal.

However, the mayor's decrees must only :

  • be notified to the person or people concerned (general principle for publishing administrative acts relating to individuals) ;
  • in certain cases, be displayed in the place to which they apply: this will be the case when all citizens are covered, for example, by a decree aimed at temporarily banning access to the place (unhealthy housing or under threat of destruction, risk of a cliff collapsing, etc.) ;
  • these acts do not have to be published in any form.

The mayor's police orders, however, are subject to the same forms of publication as municipal council orders.