Sebastian Roché and Olivier Hassid provide here an account of their findings from a foresight study of the state's role in internal security in France undertaken for the Commissariat général du Plan. The study came to nothing when the Commissariat ceased to exist.
They first describe the present arrangements for ensuring domestic security in France: their weaknesses (lack of tools for forecasting and evaluation, structural unity, professional aspects, etc.) and their strengths (e.g. large and well-qualified staff, good co-ordination between different levels, coherent institutional set-up, network of actors). They then sketch the developing trends towards greater decentralization of security issues, the emergence of private security firms, public involvement, "Europeanization" of certain police functions...
Against this background, how might the role of the state in the management of domestic security evolve? To answer this question, the authors start by defining it more precisely: what aspects of this matter should the state be responsible for and in what way (for example, should it subcontract some of them?). The authors define a "hard core" of functions where the state can really do something to achieve improved security, mainly relating to ensuring human rights, efficiency of services and public satisfaction with the security provided. They then set out the various phases of public intervention in the matter of security.
Lastly, the authors propose some possible ways forward - in terms of security priorities, levels of action and relevant actors - in line with their "fitness" for the task: their ability to adapt and consequently how appropriate they are to deal with problems, judged against the background of international comparisons.