France Set to Announce New €400 Million Security Plan After Charlie Hebdo

Members of the French National gendarmerie officers school march during the traditional Bastille Day parade on the Place de la Concorde in Paris, July 14, 2014. Charles Platiau/Reuters

The French government is expected to announce unprecedented new national security plans costing up to €400 million tomorrow, in the wake of the terrorist attacks in Paris which resulted in the deaths of 17 people earlier this month, French daily newspaper Les Échos has reported.

French prime minister Manuel Valls told press last week that his government was discussing an "exceptional response" to the series of Islamist attacks in France, fuelling speculation he could stray from his three-year economic plan to reduce the country's economic deficit if more funds are diverted into national security.

Since the attacks on the Charlie Hebdo magazine offices and the kosher shop a fortnight ago, France has remained on high terror alert and the heightened police and gendarmerie presence on French cities' streets has continued.

According to Les Échos the ministries of the interior, justice and defense are among the government bodies who have requested an additional €400 million be taken out of the national budget and distributed among them to help pay for the extenuating security measures which are continuing in the country. This is intended to benefit both branches of France's authorities - the police force and the gendarmerie.

Philippe Capon, secretary general of the union of French policemen (UNSA) has already expressed his confidence that the government will agree to put more funding towards French law enforcement, with police requests for more equipment and more staff requiring financial backing.

"The Minister of the Interior went ahead with agreeing the necessary commitments from the prime minister and the president," Capon said, when asked about the impending official announcement of the new plans.

"They must allow us to have the kind of weapons we can neutralise attackers with," Capon said, arguing the Sig semi-automatic pistols police currently carry are not up to the task.

The police are requesting funding to increase the supply of bulletproof vests for officers on duty and also more formidable firearms, according to Les Échos.

While officers carrying rifles have been patrolling the streets of French cities since Christmas, they have all been members of the gendarmerie, and not the police. The gendarmerie is under the command of the Ministry of Defence, and is usually only called in to police cities in circumstances requiring riot police or heavier security than the police force can provide as the police, who come under the umbrella of the Ministry of the Interior, are more lightly equipped.

Meanwhile the gendarmerie are also reportedly asking for financial aid to help raise recruitment levels in a bid to reverse the trend has seen the force reduced by 12,000 officers between 2007 and 2012.

After Les Échos's report, French daily newspaper Le Figaro estimated the sum of the anticipated spending on new security measures could go up to €500 million, citing an insider source.

Addressing speculation that the French government will indeed invest these hundreds of millions of euro in ramping up national security, Stéphane Le Foll, a spokesperson for the government told French newspaper La Tribune that whatever the amount invested in increased national security, "It will be within the three year economic plan."