Two distinctive features of covert policing in France are brought out in the literature. The first is its omnipresence in the political sphere (Monjardet and Lévy 1995; Brunet 1990). The second is that such policing tactics, at least in that political sphere, are of long standing: ‘[f]ar from being some modern invention, it is an age-old French tradition.’ (Monjardet and Lévy 1995, p. 30). For these reasons Claude Journès’ chapter (which follows this one) stresses exactly those historical and political dimensions of covert policing in France. But this leaves open questions as to the use of such methods in combating organized or ordinary street crime in contemporary France. This short chapter outlines the legal framework within which such policing takes place and uses both secondary literature and some preliminary findings from an empirical study of French defence lawyers to indicate something of contemporary practice. 2