The Principality prides itself on its attractiveness for residents. And, of course, there are many reasons for wealthy individuals to choose Monaco as a place to live and lots of splendid facilities and services. On top of that, Monaco’s cultural life is teeming with the very best in opera, theatre, music of all types, and, increasingly, art.
However, there are downsides, residents tell me. One is the traffic and air pollution, which are very related, of course, and, in my opinion could and should be dealt with.
The other, frankly, is the rather patchy service provided by the Sécurité Publique, the police service.
In many ways it is very reassuring that the Monaco Police are so numerous and apparently omnipresent, as well as being everywhere as a deterrence to wrongdoers. On top of the advantage of sheer numbers, the CCTV system is second to none.
On the other hand, as my academic friends say, there are certain aspects of the service where ‘could do better’ would be an appropriate comment on a school report.
My teenage son was stopped recently for walking through the Louis II Tunnel with friends and his scooter.
The officers told him they suspected the scooter may have been stolen, which was total nonsense. They insisted he find on his mobile phone images of himself and his scooter, as evidence that it belonged to him. After 10 minutes of scrolling he found one. However, the police attitude in this case was ‘guilty until proven innocent.’
I was once stopped for crossing the street at Place des Moulins as I headed for the much less policed streets of Beausoleil. Apparently I should have crossed at the place with a traffic light that takes 10 minutes to change. Once stopped, the policeman became very suspicious when I answered his ridiculous questions in reasonable French. Eventually I was released from custody to stagger up the Black Stairs of Death to the safety of the neighbouring country.
Last week a good friend and a long-time Monaco resident had a poor experience on the promenade along the beach of Larvotto. Her small dog, on a lead, was attacked by a much larger dog off his lead. Understandably, my friend intervened in an attempt to stop poor Charlie from being eaten. At this point she was attacked by the big dog’s French-speaking mistress who hit her twice with a heavy handbag.
The melee continued until both dog owners ran out of steam and my friend was able to pick up Charlie and shield him sufficiently from the lunges of the dog off his lead.
The police were called and arrived 20 minutes later. The officers doubted my friend’s narrative and suspected she and little Charlie had been the cause of the incident. Only when the omnipresent CCTV was consulted did my friend’s version convince the not very bright gentlemen in uniform that she was right after all.
Stories like this abound, and I would be very grateful if readers would care to send in their own experiences, anonymously, of course. It would take more than thumbscrews to divulge my sources while ‘helping with inquiries.’ The address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
FILE PHOTO: Members of the Monaco police service during the annual celebration of the previous year’s falling crime figures Jack Brodie
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