Anger at the Poitiers bar: the lawyers denounce the control of their professional bag at the entrance to the Châtellerault police station. The approach is part of the state of emergency, responds the police.
Lawyers from Vienne denounce recent checks to which they have recently been subjected upon their arrival at the Châtellerault police station, north of Poitiers. Some had to open their professional bag, under penalty of not being able to enter, when they came to assist a client placed in police custody. For them, this control is unjustified.
“This visual examination should not take place”condemns Me Nicolas Gillet, president of the lawyers of the Poitiers bar who took office on January 1, 2022. “A lawyer’s bag is an extension of his office, and therefore of all his files! When you want to enter a lawyer’s office, you have to do it with a search. Without search, no search.” A breach of professional secrecy, according to the chairman.
No law authorizes a power of visual inspection of bags, according to the Bar Association. But an April 2021 circular from the Ministry of the Interior provides for security measures to access all establishments open to the public, including the visual inspection of luggage, as part of the Vigipirate plan.
“The police justify these controls by the state of emergency, like any public place. Yet it is only in Châtellerault that we undergo these checks, not in Poitiers”assures Me Nicolas Gillet. “Not only are these very localized searches, not all police officers do them. Some lawyers come in with control, some don’t. We can’t figure out why.”
If entry into the police station requires a lawyer’s card, the filing of an identity card, and the accompaniment of a police officer to the client in custody, it is common for a lawyer to enter a police station without opening his bag, insists the chairman.
Since the escalation of the problem, the Bar Association has asked lawyers to report the facts and to withdraw from the premises. “We have had three cases since October”notes Me Nicolas Gillet, who already took the problem very seriously alongside his predecessor Emmanuel Breillat. “But that probably doesn’t reflect reality: between the lawyers who don’t know that they don’t have to open their bags and those who haven’t brought up the information, there is a whole invisible part ”.
Me Nicolas Gillet sent a letter to the direction of the local police, for an appointment on the spot.
Contacted, Commander Étienne Martineau of the Châtellerault police station did not wish to respond to our requests.
The president, meanwhile, intends to address the issue with the council of the Bar Association, which he chairs, during a meeting on Wednesday January 12.