France to use 'terror bracelets' to alert police
Published 17/09/2016 | 02:30
Teachers in southern France have been handed special bracelets to alert police about any security threat amid fears of terror attacks.
Some 74 nurseries and primary schools in the town of Aix-en-Provence have been equipped with the new security accessory, which can be worn around the neck or wrist.
The bracelet features a large orange button that if pressed sounds the alarm at local police stations and around the school.
The aim of the initiative is to shorten response time in the event of an attack or intrusion and thus the threat of death or injury to the town's 9,400 pupils and teachers.
René Schaller, who is responsible for education at Aix town hall, said she expected anxious parents to welcome the measure.
"You can feel the psychosis in the letters I get from parents asking me to build walls in front of the schools, or to deploy police in front of each building," she said.
Four other towns have already expressed an interest in the alarm system, she added.
The bracelet sets off a specific tone and pinpoints where it was set off to save time.
Some 800 bracelets were handed out his week, at a cost of €160,000, according to 'L'Express' newspaper.
The measure came days after France launched a drive to improve security in French schools, which were recently singled out as targets by Isil.
Parents were barred from entering schools this month, while armed police have mounted patrols outside schools and a government spokesman advised "total and extreme vigilance".
French three- to six-year old children will be taught to play "silence reigns" to learn how to keep quiet in case of attack, while every school will be obliged to organise three security drills per year, including one based on the scenario of an attack with at least one assailant inside the building.
Pupils aged 13 to 14 will also receive training on basic life-saving measures.
This week, it emerged that head teachers in France want pupils to be allowed to smoke on sixth-form college grounds to stop them gathering on pavements outside where they are at risk from terrorist attack.
The heads said that if pupils cannot smoke in school, they will go outside during breaks, making them an easy target.
Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, the education minister, dismissed the heads' calls.
Isil, whose strongholds in Syria and Iraq are being bombed by French jets, has called on its followers to attack in France, notably its secular state schools, calling them "anti-chambers of hell".