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Valls to come clean on France's New Year's Eve car blazes

media French Interior Minister, Manuel Valls Reuters/Charles Platiau

Interior Minister Manuel Valls said on Monday that he’ll release figures detailing the number of cars burned during the night of 31st December – 1st January when, every year, around a thousand vehicles in France are set ablaze by vandals.

Valls reminded journalists that those who suffer most are those living in the difficult high-rise estates on the edge of France’s towns and cities, where most of the cars are destroyed.

The previous right-wing government stopped publishing figures on torched cars in 2010, after it emerged that a district-by-district breakdown of statistics was fuelling competition between rival gangs over who could burn the most cars.

But Valls announced on Monday that he intends to make the figures public again, as soon as they are collated.

“Because a problem is hidden, it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist”, he told reporters on a visit to customs and security services at Charles de Gaulle airport outside Paris.

“The French people have a right to know the truth,” he said, insisting that the count would not stop at 0600 on the morning of 1st January, a practice he said had often been used in the past to minimise the numbers.

Over 65, 000 police and emergency workers will be on duty for tonight’s end of year celebrations.

Over 40,000 vehicles are burned around France every year.

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