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Federal police forces set to merge

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Federal police forces set to merge
Photo: DPA
15:43 CET+01:00
After 60 years of fragmented nationwide law enforcement, the two branches of Germany's federal police are set to be brought under one roof.

An expert panel led by former domestic intelligence chief Eckart Werthebach recommended on Thursday that the federal office of criminal investigation (BKA) be merged with the federal police (BPOL) to create a new mega-force.

The third pillar of the security architecture, the German customs administration, would remain separate and fall under the responsibility of the Finance Ministry.

Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière welcomed the recommendation and vowed to push ahead with the overhaul as quickly as possible. However he rejected suggestions that the new unified force be a German version of the United States' Federal Bureau of Investigation.

“I don't want a German FBI,” he said.

He said he didn't want a US-style force that could overrule local authorities, as this would not be compatible with Germany's federalist principles. Furthermore, the FBI acted “partly as an intelligence service with international associations,” which would breach Germany's separation of surveillance and enforcement.

He said the overhaul would not involve staff cuts. BPOL has 41,000 staff and the BKA 5,300.

BPOL, which evolved out of what used to be called the border police, currently has the roles of securing borders, guarding federal buildings, embassies and airports, and providing anti-terrorism squads and sky marshalls. The BKA is an investigative force that pursues crimes that are national and international in scope, such as organised crime. Most regular investigative police work is done by the various state police forces.

The newly named Polizei des Bundes will merge the two.

Werthebach, former president of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (Verfassungsschutz), said there had been “no serious security flaws” in the disparate branches. Therefore the panel had resolved to change the services by evolution rather than revolution.

The new federal police will made up of four pillars: a criminal investigative branch, a preventative force, a special operations and technology division, and an administrative wing that looks after staffing and the budget.

De Maizière vowed to set about creating the reforms quickly and said he hoped to have them in place by the end of the current legislative period in 2013. His department would examine the recommendations by spring and then make a decision about how and when to make the changes.

DAPD/The Local/dw

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