French bike cops' helmet hell

Furious French continue to defy just about everything

MOTORCYCLE officers in the Morbihan region of France are making a stand against shoddy issued kit, exercising their right of withdrawal (a work stoppage for safety reasons), specifically citing the poor state of their helmets. 

Patrolmen were issued with their latest helmets in 2007, but have become disgruntled since replacements have not been forthcoming. Helmets usually have a working life of between three and five years, depending on intensity of use.

Police riders are now refusing to take to the road on their bikes, opting for their squad cars instead.

According to the police union, within just a year and a half of use, the helmet shell had begun to flake. Officers were told that it was not detrimental to safety, but subsequently the situation has worsened. 

'The shells become brittle and no longer protect crash. Visors, weather-worn, no longer offer the minimum visibility. Inside, the foams are packed and no longer maintaining normal protection' said Dominique Le Dourmer, departmental secretary of the GSP Police Unit. 'It is not acceptable for us to continue to drive in these conditions.'

'Under the intensive use of the national police motorcyclists, the situation is alarming.'

The Ministry of the Interior has promised replacements by the end of the year - but not in time to stop these uppity cops from making their voices heard. The administration has blamed 'supply issues'.