Police Crackdown on Illegal Street Vendors in Paris
Police cars, sirens blaring, arrive at full speed on Boulevard Bessières, in the 17th arrondissement of Paris. Officers get out, push street vendors against the wall, confiscate their fruit and vegetable stands, and search their carts. Some are taken into custody.
This Wednesday, a rather spectacular police operation was organized in front of the Porte-de-Clichy metro station. It was a prelude to a much more official meeting. With only 280 days until the Olympic Games, Magali Charbonneau, Deputy Prefect and Deputy Director of Laurent Nuñez’s office, and Nicolas Nordman, Deputy Mayor of Paris in charge of security and municipal police, came to announce their new partnership to combat illegal street vendors, who generate trafficking, incivility, and consequently, insecurity.
“We wanted to respond to the district mayors,” explains Magali Charbonneau. “To come together as one, with all the partners.” These partners include the national and municipal police, the City of Paris, the prosecutor’s office, the RATP, and the actors of the Rungis market where the street vendors source their goods. In May of this year, Parisian elected officials spoke up, and a resolution was submitted to the Paris Council.
Fruit and vegetables without traceability concern residents, elected officials, and police officers who call for vigilance.
The Parisian phenomenon of street vendors, selling miniature Eiffel Towers made in China, selfie sticks, smuggled cigarettes, as well as bottles of fake champagne, crepes, and questionable meat skewers, as well as fruit and vegetables without traceability, concern residents, elected officials, and police officers. “It’s a phenomenon that appeared about ten years ago and has considerably developed,” says Sandrine Choux, General Delegate at Saveurs Commerces, representing official merchants, who denounce “unfair competition.”
Controls at the Rungis market to see who supplies there
Among the key points of this new partnership, where all these services that already worked together will “increase their impact,” a new fixed fine against the street vendors will be created. Also noteworthy is the establishment of a dedicated brigade in the 18th arrondissement and the deployment of agents inside Rungis to carry out controls and identify those who supply there.
The police prefecture has also published a prospectus with a somewhat vintage design, “Stop Street Vending”. “Our municipal police officers will distribute it during their operations, such as at Champ-de-Mars,” explains Nicolas Nordman, who points out that “there are 30 operations carried out by the national and municipal police every week.”
“We have smuggling networks exploiting these individuals”
“These small-scale vendors are just the tip of the iceberg,” insists Magali Charbonneau. “We have smuggling networks exploiting these individuals. We need to trace back these networks.” Florent Bourra, Deputy Prosecutor, details a “progressive penal policy” targeting the street vendors, where a repeat offender, in addition to the fine, could face immediate trial. Since March, 300 fixed fines have been issued.
Geoffroy Boulard, LR mayor of the 17th arrondissement, “deeply affected by the street vendors in his district,” welcomes “this partnership that is going in the right direction.” However, he tempers the operation on Wednesday, which seems like just communication and defusing tactics. “It shouldn’t just be a PR stunt. There needs to be real resources deployed and it should be sustainable. Everyone agrees that this trafficking is bad for our image, especially since Paris is expecting 16 million visitors for the Olympics next summer.”