In a destructive French “tradition” that began in the 1990s, 1,193 vehicles were torched last night. The numbers, which had not been made public historically, were released today by Interior Minister Manuel Valls.
The practice of burning cars on New Year’s Eve is thought to be an act of rebellion by suburban French youths. The vehicles burned each year are empty, are parked along the streets, and are primarily located in disadvantaged neighborhoods and in low-income housing projects.
Statistics about the crimes have not been consistently available to the public. Interior Minister Valls spoke to journalists on Monday, announcing that he would make the public aware of the figures as soon as they were compiled each year. Previous administration ceased publishing the data in an effort to deter gangs. There was concern that rival gangs would use the data to compete and keep track of which group was burning the most cars.
As reported by RFI, Valls spoke to reporters about his decision to publish the data:
“Because a problem is hidden, it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. The French people have a right to know the truth.”
There were over 65,000 law enforcement and emergency workers patrolling throughout the evening, but that did little to prevent the burning of 1,193 vehicles. As promised Interior Minister Valls released the new numbers as soon as they were calculated.
Although there was no data available to compare to 2010, statistics released from New years Eve 2009 were used. According to Edmonton Journal, the number of cars being burned at least appears to have remained steady through the last few years. In 2009, there were 1,147 vehicles torched, which is consistent with the numbers released today.
Some are still critical of Valls’ decision to publish the numbers. Security Chief for Sarkozy’s UMP party, Bruno Beschizza, expressed concern that it would likely inspire other youths to commit similar crimes.