Interior minister Gérald Darmanin announced on Tuesday that 100,000 police and gendarmes would be on duty across the country on New Year's Eve to enforce the 8pm-6am curfew and ban on gatherings in public places.
“The priority in the next few days must be to fight against unauthorised public gatherings and the phenomenon of urban violence,” Darmanin wrote in a message to local authorities on December 28th. He said efforts should be concentrated “in city centres and sensitive neighbourhood areas.”
The number of officers is actually the same as last year, when they were deployed during the New Year’s Eve celebrations which are often marked by outbreaks of vandalism, particularly the strange tradition of burning cars.
Darmanin also asked police chiefs to impose “orders prohibiting the sale of fuel or alcohol in transportable containers, wherever possible”.
The past few years have seen a rise in the number of cars torched on New Year's Eve, with last year setting a new record of 1,457 vehicles burned across the country. That’s a 13 percent increase from the 1,031 cars burned in 2018. While in 2017, 935 cars were burned.
Cars are often set ablaze whenever there is an outbreak of social disorder, as seen in the 2005 riots when hundreds of vehicles were torched.
But setting cars on fire on the last night of the year has become something of a tradition in France, a custom that started in the 1990s in the poorer neighbourhoods of big cities.
Authorities have previously refrained from reporting the number of torched cars on New Year’s Eve after it was discovered that it was fuelling competition between gangs.