Violence on rise across France, but not Marseille

Levels of violence committed against individuals has risen across France, according to new statistics revealed this week and in particular in Paris where 100 attacks a day have been recorded in recent months.

Violence on rise across France, but not Marseille
Violence against individuals is on the rise throughout France, new stats suggest, but not in crime-ridden Marseille. Photo: Alain Jocard/AFP

Levels of wanton violence have seen a concerning rise in France in recent months, according to figures from a national crime observatory that were published on Monday.

The number of gratuitious attacks of violence in the streets, described in French as (violences gratuites) rose 8 percent in the first four months of 2014 compared to the same period last year.

On the whole, all kinds of violence, from beatings to murders and from armed robbery to rape, rose 5.5 percent across the country.

The figures, from the ONDRP observatory, that were published in right-leaning Le Figaro, showed that 76 out of France’s 96 departments, or four out of five, saw a rise in violence against individuals.

Le Figaro says France's new Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve, who replaced Manuel Valls, cannot ignore the stats.

It is “irrefutable data that shows that France is suffering” the newspaper wrote.

The biggest jumps were in the south west Gironde department (22 percent), in the Sarthe in the centre (22 percent) and 16 percent in the department of Oise.

In the French capital Paris the statistics, that were taken from crimes reported to the police or the Gendarmes, revealed there were one hundred acts of aggression each day against people, which reflects a rise of 4 percent on the same period last year.

The figures also reveal that many of the 125,000 attacks in France in the first trimestre of 2014 (compared to 118,000 in the 2013) are carried out by minors.

One police officer suggested the situation might be a lot worse than these statistics reveal.

“Violence has become so trivialized that a lot of people do not even report it to police,” the officer told Le Figaro. However his view was rejected by criminology professor Alain Bauer, who told Le Parisien that he believed more and more people were coming forward to report crimes.

However with any release of statistics, there are other factors to take into account that make comparisons difficult.

The ONDRP crime observatory points out that since 2012 the gendarmerie, which polices France’s rural regions as opposed to the police which have authority over towns, has used a different system to record data since 2012, that prevents any fiddling of the figures.

Cooking the books has been a major problem in France. The Local reported in March how police in Paris wiped 16,000 crimes from their records in just one year, as part of a decade long effort to make the capital seem safer than it was.

There was also some positive news from the release of the stats this week.

In Marseille, the Mediterranean city plagued with violent crime and high murder rates, the level of violence fell by 16.4 percent.

The main reason given was the deployment of reinforcements, including 320 more police, as well as a unit of 80 officers on mountain bikes and 20 on scooters.

The number of acts of violence used in robbery has decreased by 2 percent compared to last year. However overall the trend looks bad. There are 20,000 acts of violence related to theft each month in France, compared to 10,000 ten years ago.

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French police bust cross-Channel people-smuggling ring

French police have busted a major people-smuggling ring that has been sending migrants to Britain in dinghies, with more than a dozen boats and 700 life jackets seized in a raid, French authorities said Thursday.

French police bust cross-Channel people-smuggling ring

The ring was run by Iraqi Kurdish migrants and had a logistics hub in Lille, a northern French city about 100 kilmetres (60 miles) from the northern Channel beaches around Calais that are used for crossings.

Three Iraqi men have been charged, along with three French suspects after their arrest on Monday.

Police discovered “a real factory supplying nautical equipment” in Lille, the head of French anti-migration agency Ocriest, Xavier Delrieu, told AFP.

In what was their biggest ever seizure of equipment, they found 13 inflatable boats, 14 outboard engines, 700 life jackets, 100 pumps and 700 litres of fuel, Delrieu said.

The group is suspected of having organised 80 Channel crossings over the summer, of which 50 succeeded, with the smugglers netting around €80,000 for each one.

The arrests came due to intelligence-sharing between authorities in Belgium, Britain, Germany and the Netherlands, who are all trying to crack down on migrants crossing the Channel by boat.

The original tip-off came after a border guard control discovered a group of French youths carrying inflatables from Germany into the Netherlands.

More migrants have crossed the Channel to the UK from northern France so far this year than in the whole of 2021.

So far this year, more than 30,000 people have been detected crossing the Channel to the UK, fresh government figures showed Thursday. On Wednesday alone, the authorities detected another 667 people.

Britain’s new prime minister, Liz Truss, has faced some criticism from other Conservatives and in right-wing media outlets for not pressing for more French action against the crossings when she met President Emmanuel Macron in New York on Tuesday.

Downing Street said the issue did not come up at their talks on the margins of the UN General Assembly, which instead focused on common ground including Ukraine and energy security.

The crossings are among a host of issues that have badly strained Franco-British relations in recent years.