PARIS – The year 2020 has started on a sad note for the French. The delinquency (crime) record in France in 2019 was already appalling, but this year could break all previous records.

Since January, figures from the police and the gendarmerie, which French daily Le Figaro (paywall) has been able to consult, reveal an explosion of violence on a daily basis, including the most serious offenses.

For example, the number of settling of accounts, murders or attempted murders jumped 18.7 percent in one month, with 380 cases in January, against 320 in the same period the previous year. Intentional assault and battery cases peaked at 140 attacks per day on average, an increase of 21 percent.

Hostage taking (+ 36.8 percent), kidnapping (+ 13.7 percent), threats and blackmail (+ 9.6 percent) also increased considerably. Even armed robberies, which had fallen considerably in recent years, started to rise again in January (+ 5.9 percent) while thefts with knives are also more and more numerous (+ 21.6 percent). But despite the Yellow Vest movement, acts of vandalism were down (- 2.9 percent), as were reports of carrying and possession of prohibited weapons.

But this is the only positive point of this worrying assessment, since sexual offenses increased by 14 percent, burglaries by 2.6 percent, pickpocketing by 16.4 percent and theft of vehicles by 4.4 percent.

The assessment of the start to 2020 is so terrible that certain specialists wonder: “if this under performance reflects, above all, the number of crimes committed last year which were carried over into this one?”

According to a criminologist speaking to Le Figaro, the carry-over of end-of-year 2019 offenses to January to lighten the annual toll of last year has indeed already happened in the past, even if the Secretary of State to the Minister of the Interior Laurent Nuñez recently assured the public that these shenanigans were no longer used.

The Castaner-Nuñez duo is particularly unpopular. At the beginning of February, in the JDD, former minister Xavier Bertrand published a column in which he deplored the ambient “laissez-faire” and pointed to an executive particularly “uncomfortable with these questions about governance”.