For three weeks, they have refused to assist those in custody in the Châtellerault police station. According to the Bar Association, no legal text authorizes these visual checks.
It has been three weeks since the lawyers of the Poitiers bar no longer set foot at the Châtellerault police station, in Vienne. The reason: they are protesting against the visual control of bags imposed on them at the entrance since October.
“Normally, we show our professional card where our face and our identity are displayed. We do not have to open our bag and that has always been the case”, explains Me Nicolas Gillet, president of the bar association of Poitiers.
Repeated checks to which was added what was perceived as one incident too many, on January 13: when she arrived at the police station to assist a client in custody, a lawyer was also asked to ” spread your thighs” for a metal detector check.
“A policewoman came to me with a metal detector in her hand, saying ‘hello, spread your legs, I’m going to do a check'” while she was wearing a skirt that day, says t she in a video posted on Twitter.
She adds that subsequently three other people presented themselves at the police station without undergoing any checks. “We work daily with the gendarmerie services in a climate of total trust. This is the first time that such incidents have been declared,” she continues, adding that she felt “humiliated”.
“A lawyer’s bag is a bit like his office”
It was in October that the controls began, after the publication of a circular from the Ministry of the Interior, to reinforce security measures at the entrance to places open to the public. But Me Nicolas Gillet assures him: to his knowledge, the Châtellerault police station is the only one to impose controls of this type on lawyers.
“A lawyer’s bag is a bit like his office. There may be confidential files, which no one has to see, and we are bound by professional secrecy. To be able to carry out a search, you need a search warrant. So when the police ask us to open our bag, for us, it’s illegal, “says the chairman.
Me Nicolas Gillet raised the problem several times, in particular by seizing the Defender of Rights. Lawyers from the Poitiers bar are still awaiting a response and have indicated that they will no longer return to the police station “until further notice”.