France ends height rule for joining police force


France has ended restrictions barring people under 1.6 metres (5ft 3in) from joining the police force.

The country of Napoleon imposed minimum height requirements for police centuries ago, raising them over the decades as the average size of Frenchmen rose, but the rules have come to be seen as discriminatory.

“Entry into all active categories of the national police is no longer reserved for candidates whose height exceeds 1.60m,” the labour ministry said in a statement.

“From now on the conditions of entry will be linked exclusively to the ability to carry out the relevant duties.” According to the national statistics office INSEE, the average French man stands 1.75 metres and the average woman 1.63 metres, compared to 1.66 metres and 1.54 metres, respectively, in 1900.

French president Nicolas Sarkozy’s height is estimated at around 1.65 metres, roughly the same size as French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte.

Police union Alliance Police Nationale welcomed the move, saying the previous requirements had prevented candidates who were “morally, physically and intellectually” capable of working as police. Height requirements for joining the military remain in place.