Policing the corona crisis: A comparison between France and the Netherlands

DOI10.1177/1461355720980772
Published date01 June 2021
Date01 June 2021
Article
Policing the corona crisis: A comparison
between France and the Netherlands
Jan Terpstra
Radboud University, the Netherlands
Jacques de Maillard
Centre de recherches sociologiques sur le droit et les institutions p´
enales,
France; Universit´
e de Versailles-Saint-Quentin, France
Renze Salet
Radboud University, the Netherlands
Sebastian Roch´
e
University Grenoble-Alpes, Sciences Po Grenoble, CNRS, France
Abstract
The policing of measures to control the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus is a core aspect of the current corona crisis. This
article concentrates on differences in policing the corona crisis in Franceand the Netherlands. Thereare huge differences in
policing the corona crisis between the two jurisdictions: Franc e with a very strict, repressive approach, and the Netherlands
with a more pragmatic, communicative and responsibilizing style. These differences can be understood by looking at the
underlying frames about the relationship between state and citizens. The differences in frames about the relationship between
police and citizens are more or less similar between the two countries. In France, the dominant frame is of policing as a matter
of ‘force’ and ‘war’; the Dutch policing style is framed in terms of responsibilization, communication and persuasion. Despite
these important differences, there are also similarities. In both countries there have been fundamental criticisms of the legal
basis of thecorona measures andof the way that these havebeen policed. The issuesof protest and criticismare often related
to the specific dominatingframes, in a paradoxicalway. The Dutch approach,with its emphasis on proximity, communication
and shared responsibilities, may be more effective in realizing compliance with the anti-corona rules than the French one, with
its distrust of citizens, use of sanctions and war-likerhetoric. The question is raisedof whether the Dutch approach willalso
be successful if awareness of the dangers of the virus and of the importance of self-control declines.
Keywords
Policing, COVID-19, France, Netherlands, corona crisis, frames
Submitted 01 Jul 2020, Revise received 11 Sep 2020, accepted 02 Nov 2020
The COVID-19 pandemic is not only a worldwide health
problem with dramatic consequences, but also a matter of
social order. The pandemic has had a huge impact on social
relations and the stability and taken-for-grantedness of
many institutions and organizations. To control the virus
and its impact, governments have tried to create a new
(temporary) social order, with new rules for interactions
that have had direct consequences in almost every domain
of our lives. This order has proved to be unstable, fragile
and is in a permanent state of change, resulting in tensions
Corresponding author:
Jan Terpstra, Radboud University, Faculty of Law, PO Box 9049, 6500 KK,
Nijmegen, the Netherlands.
Email: j.terpstra@jur.ru.nl
International Journalof
Police Science & Management
2021, Vol. 23(2) 168–181
ªThe Author(s) 2021
Article reuse guidelines:
sagepub.com/journals-permissions
DOI: 10.1177/1461355720980772
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