Letter to present to the police

This letter to the French police can help you communicate with them if you do not speak fluent French and/or wish to be sure that they respect your rights, for example the fact that you have the right to ask for their help without being deported.

Verified by Women for Women France on 17/05/2023

If you do not feel able to communicate with the police in French, but would like to request their intervention or file a complaint, Women for Women France and the French police services known as “Police nationale” and “Gendarmerie nationale” have drafted a letter to help you communicate with the police officers and remind them of your rights in relation to your situation.

How can I use it?

You can download the letter here. It is written in French.

We recommend bringing the letter with you when you go to a police station, i.e. either to a “commissariat de police” or to a “brigade de gendarmerie”. Present it when you arrive at the reception.

You can also use it when you call the emergency police services and when they intervene at your home.

What does it say?

Below is a translation of the letter to help you understand what’s in it. However, make sure you show only the French version to the police.

The letter says:

Subject: Reception at a police station and the accompanying of a non-French person who has experienced sexual or domestic abuse who is not fluent in French.

The person standing in front of you is not a French national and may not be fluent in French.

The association Women for Women France has directed them to a police station due to the domestic, sexual and/or gender-based abuse they have faced.

Before you deal with their case, we would like to help you to understand certain vulnerable aspects associated with their personal situation:

  1. The person in front of you may be in serious danger but unable to communicate it clearly to you or to return home. You can complete the risk assessment matrix translated into 18 languages with them to take urgent action if needed without waiting for an interpreter to arrive.
  2. If they do not speak fluent French, they have the right to use an interpreter to file a complaint in accordance with Articles 10–2 and 10–3 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.
  3. It is possible that they do not have valid residency rights. Nevertheless, they have the right to file a complaint and have their case treated without the risk of being detained. No administrative proceedings may be taken against the victim who comes to a police or gendarmerie department to file a complaint or establish a “main courante” log.
  4. If they wish to file a complaint, please do not refuse it, in accordance with Article 15–3 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. They may also be assisted by someone of their choice (a lawyer, a representative from an association, someone close to them, etc.) throughout the process of filing a complaint.
  5. They may be isolated in France, without people around them to support or accommodate them. We also count on you to present the existing support measures (protection order, emergency accommodation, victim support organisations, social workers at the police station, etc.).

It probably took them all their strength and courage to come and see you as they are in a different country from where they grew up. The support you can provide is invaluable. For them, this is the first step in their journey towards safety and independence.

This letter was drafted in collaboration with the Directorate-General of the National Police (DGPN) and the Directorate-General of the National Gendarmerie (DGGN) which validated all its content and is associated with this action to raise awareness on the particular vulnerability of these individuals.

Find support

In France, there are many services that can support you, give you advice, and assist you with procedures and paperwork. Most of them are free of charge.

  • The role of the police is to ensure the safety of all people, whatever their situation, even for people without French residency rights. A police officer will be able to advise you and offer assistance 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You can contact the police in four main ways:

    • By telephone: call 17, a free number. Languages available: interpretation in all languages.
    • By text message: send an SMS to 114 in French, specifying your exact address.
    • Online: chat service. This service is available in many languages.
    • Go to any police station, i.e. either a “commissariat de police” or a “brigade de gendarmerie”. You can find the closest police station to you on this website. If you don't speak French, they will need to find you an interpreter, this can take some time.
  • This telephone counselling service is intended for people facing all types of violence and those who support them.

    • This service is free of charge.
    • On the telephone, a trained counsellor will listen to you and support you. They can then direct you to relevant services near you.
    • Languages available: interpretation in all languages.
    • Contact: call 3919, available 24/7. The call will not appear on your telephone bill.
    • For people who are deaf, have difficulties hearing, people with aphasia or who have language impairments, you can access a service adapted for your needs by clicking on the telephone icon at the bottom right of the website www.solidaritefemmes.org.

While the utmost care has gone into providing you with the most accurate and up to date information, this page is not intended to replace legal or professional advice. Laws and procedures change regularly so it is important to consult qualified professionals.

For police intervention:

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