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New Year's Eve: France to deploy 53,000 cops

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New Year's Eve: France to deploy 53,000 cops
CRS riot police in the eastern city of Strasbourg at the scene of a car-burning on New Year's Eve. France has called in 89,000 extra cops and firefighters for Tuesday night. Photo: Thomas Wirth/AFP
10:25 CET+01:00
French Interior Minister Manuel Valls on Tuesday announced the deployment of 89,000 police and emergency services personnel to keep order on the streets and roads of France amid what are expected to be raucous New Year's Eve celebrations.

Every country will experience its own excesses on Tuesday evening, in marking the passage of the New Year.

The French have their own peculiar tradition on the feast of Saint Sylvester, as it’s known – burning cars. Valls assured that he would release the figures for the number of vehicles destroyed throughout New Year's Eve.

To keep order on the streets and roads of France, and minimize damage and injury, the government on Tuesday morning announced the deployment of extra resources meaning 89,000 police officers and emergency services personnel will be on duty.

Speaking to French radio RTL, Interior Minister Manuel Valls said 53,000 cops would be out in force on Tuesday evening, to ensure celebrations are as safe as possible and involve the minimum damage to property.

The emergency measure will see some 62 units containing 53,000 police officers, as well as 36,000 fire fighters and emergency services, Valls said.

“Certain areas will, like every year, be the subject of particular surveillance,” he told RTL, pointing to the fireworks-loving eastern cities of Strasbourg and Mulhouse, as well as the Champs Elysées and Champs-de-Mars (Eiffel Tower), which attract hundreds of thousands of revellers every year, many of them tourists.

The interior minister also called for caution on the roads of France on Tuesday evening, asking motorists to show “the greatest possible prudence and vigilance in the coming hours.”

To help keep drink driving to a minimum, some 3,000 breathalisers will be distributed to drivers throughout the country on Tuesday evening.

On Monday, authorities in the southern department of Var announced that, to fight the scourge of drinking driving on New Year’s Eve, they would be giving out €20 bonuses to motorists stopped by traffic police who were found to be driving completely sober.

Meanwhile, in the French capital, the prefecture of police announced on Monday that 9,000 police, emergency services and military personnel would be deployed on Tuesday evening.

There will be traffic restrictions and a clampdown on the sale and possession of glass bottles (whether alcoholic or not), between 8pm and 6am in certain sections of Paris, particularly those around the Champs Elysées, Eiffel Tower, and certain banks of the Seine river, according to Europe 1 radio.

Throughout the entire Paris region, the sale of small, retail amounts of fuel has been banned since Friday and will remain prohibited until January 6th, the traditional end of the holiday season in France.

A temporary ban on the sale and possession of firecrackers and rocket-style fireworks is also in place in the French capital.

In order to avoid traffic bedlam in and around the city, rail provider RATP has announced that travelling on the Paris Métro, buses and regional lines including the RER will be free to all between 5pm on Tuesday and 12pm on Wednesday.

These public transport services will run all night on New Year’s Eve.

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