three Ile-de-France mayors challenge Emmanuel Macron in the face of a “dramatic situation”

The mayors of the 19th arrondissement of Paris, Aubervilliers and Pantin (Seine-Saint-Denis), challenge the President of the Republic about the movement of drug addicts to a square at Porte de la Villette.

“It is curious that, when it is necessary to remove people causing nuisance, the proximity of cities of Seine-Saint-Denis seems to be an advantage more than a problem”, declare François Dagnaud, mayor of the 19th arrondissement of Paris, Karine Franclet, mayor of Aubervilliers (Seine-Saint-Denis) and Bertrand Kern, mayor of Pantin (Seine-Saint-Denis) in a petition addressed to the President of the Republic.

The latter question the management of the Paris police headquarters (therefore the State), of 200 drug addicts from the Jardin d’Éole to the square de la Porte de la Villette. “Three months falling on December 24, what a detestable irony!”, add these elected officials.

In addition to not having been warned, the city councilors point to the famous hastily built wall to prevent these users of crack (a smokable derivative of cocaine) from returning to Paris: “Overnight, this wall deprived local residents of the only soft traffic around the Porte de la Villette so that these wandering people could settle in a totally inappropriate place”.

The three elected officials explain how to address the President of the Republic “as a last resort, having received no response to the dramatic situation that has been unfolding for months at the square de la Porte de la Villette”, and go on to ask the State “to take care of these people to treat them”.

Last October, a woman was found dead of an overdose in the drug camp. “If these people had been taken care of medically and socially, we might not have had any deaths to mourn”, regret the mayors. When crack users moved from Stalingrad to the Porte de la Villette on September 24, the authorities mentioned a solution “temporary”.

At the beginning of December, the Regional Chamber of Accounts drew a mixed assessment of the anti-crack strategy in Paris. Drug addicts are in better health, but tranquility has not been restored, summarize the authors of the report.

Launched in 2019, the three-year strategy was to pool efforts against the consumption of crack, which plagues the north-east of Paris, by associating the municipality with various State services: regional and police prefectures, public prosecutor’s offices, regional health agency and Interministerial Mission to Combat Drugs and Addictive Behaviours.

“The plan has produced real but partial results and has no effect on breaches of public peace”, affirms the CRC while hundreds of drug addicts are still in the street, tossed around according to the evacuations.

The collective strategy of the public authorities has made it possible to unblock “money that has been well spent”, tempers Christian Martin, the president of the CRC Ile-de-France.

The budget (which exploded to reach 25 million euros instead of the 9 planned) was used at 70% to create 440 emergency accommodation places in order to get many crack addicts off the streets.

Precipitated by the first confinement in the spring of 2020, which imposed sheltering in hotels, this massive and unexpected effort seems to be bearing fruit. “A small majority of hosted and accompanied consumers succeed in reducing their consumption of narcotics”, notes the report.

On the other hand, the plan was undersized for the 700 to 800 precarious consumers identified in Paris, deplore the magistrates.

The CRC also regrets the insufficient involvement of the police and justice in this strategy. The police headquarters and the Paris prosecutor’s office led this fight separately, sometimes thwarting the action of their health partners. The rest area designed for users of Crack Hill, for example, never found its audience, because this camp near the ring road was dismantled on the eve of its opening.

In the end, only two rooms of this type out of the six planned were created, but never opened at night, the most sensitive period.

The town hall of Paris has indicated that it is working on a new crack plan in Paris. According to Emmanuel Grégoire, the first deputy (PS) at the town hall of Paris, the city wants to focus on “accommodation and the opening of places of rest with the widest possible time amplitudes”, even if “put the subject aside for the moment” consumption rooms, renamed Addiction Care Halts (HSA).

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