From Academic Kids

In France and many other French-speaking countries, a préfet (English: prefect) is the State's representative in a département or région (in the later case, he is called a préfet de région). Sub-prefects (sous-préfets) are responsible for the sub-districts (arrondissements) into which départements are divided. The office of a prefect is known as a préfecture, that of a sub-prefect as a sous-préfecture.

Roles

The prefect of a région is also responsible for the département which houses his préfecture; similarly, the prefect of a département is also responsible for the arrondissement in which his préfecture is situated.

Prefects operate under the Minister of the Interior. Their main missions include.

  • representing the state to local governments;
  • security
  • responsibility for official documents, such as
  • ensuring respect for legality: officials working for the prefect verify the legality of decisions made by local governments and submit doubtful cases to administrative courts or to financial auditing courts.

Prefects may issue administrative orders (arrêtés) in areas falling within the competency of the national government, including general safety. For instance, they may prohibit the use of certain roads without special tyres in times of snow. The prohibition on smoking or leaving the motor running while filling the fuel tank of a motor vehicle is another example of a matter typically decided by prefectoral arrêté.

On official occasions, prefects wear a uniform.

Special cases

In New Caledonia and French Polynesia, the roles of the prefect, with certain differences in status, are fulfilled by a high commissioner (haut commissaire); in Wallis and Futuna, by a superior administrator (administrateur supérieur).

Paris, which is itself a département, and the three départements surrounding it (the petite couronne, or "little crown") are an exception. These four départements are governed by a single préfecture for law enforcement and security purposes — the préfecture de police (PP) — and the law enforcement powers exercised in other French cities and towns by the mayor here belong to the préfet de police (see Prefecture of Police).

See also

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