Far-right French mayor plans extra volunteer police force

Beziers mayor Robert Menard Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Mr Menard said the force could help reinforce security

The far-right mayor of the French town Beziers has said he is setting up a volunteer force to supplement police during the national state of emergency introduced after the Paris attacks.

Robert Menard said his Beziers Guard would start patrolling the south-western town on Thursday.

The controversial mayor has urged former soldiers and police to sign up.

Mr Menard has previously been accused of turning his city into a "laboratory of the far right".

"France is living through difficult times and it is in that context that I asked myself how we could reinforce security and help the local and national police," Mr Menard told reporters.

Local police union leader Bruno Bartocetti said it was "worrying that volunteers were being put into uniform... even if this is an exceptional situation, we should let the professionals do their work."

Mr Menard became mayor of the economically depressed town in 2014 with the support of the the far-right National Front party.

He has vowed to restore its economy, focusing much of his effort on petty crime and illegal immigration.

Mr Menard doubled the number of municipal police, and earlier this year issued officers with semi-automatic pistols.

Last week he called on the town's mosques to preach only in French and he recently banned new kebab shops in the historic city centre.

The French government imposed a three-month state of emergency following the 13 November Paris attacks in which 130 people were killed.

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