In recent years an unenviable New Year ‘tradition’ has grown in France which the French government would gladly see extinguished – setting fire to cars. This New Year, the 'tradition' continued.
Figures just released by the French Interior Ministry reveal that over the recent New Year, 1193 vehicles were torched in France, an increase of 46 on the year for which figures were last available.
Manuel Valls, France’s Interior Minister, has announced that over New Year’s Eve – known as le Réveillon in France – a total of 1193 vehicles were set alight reports Liberation. Valls had decided to resume publication of these statistics after the practice had been abandoned by the previous Sarkozy administration in 2010. France's previous government considered that publicising the number of vehicle fires was encouraging a ‘league table’ of mayhem amongst cities and banlieues, the sprawling estates on the outskirts of some French cities, as to who could cause the most fires.
The latest figures are slightly up on 2009, the last year for which figures are available, reports L'Express. In 2009, there were 1147 vehicle fires. The French departments (counties) most affected by the scourge of New Year vehicle fires over Hogmanay just past were (with number of conflagrations in brackets) Seine-Saint-Denis (83), Haut-Rhin (72), Bas-Rhin (70), Nord (61) and Bouches-du-Rhône (51).
The ‘tradition’ of setting alight to vehicles at New Year in France first became prevalent around Strasbourg in Alsace near the German border in the early 1990s. Strasbourg remains a hot-spot with the surrounding department of Bas-Rhin featuring high on the list of departments where vehicle fires were most prevalent.
In an effort to combat New Year vehicle fires as well as fighting drink driving, France mobilised an unprecedented 53,000 gendarmes (police) for patrols over the New Year holiday period reports The Connexion.