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CDU floats 'private sheriffs' idea to tackle big city crime

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CDU floats 'private sheriffs' idea to tackle big city crime
Sadly the sheriffs proposed won't be actor Jan Fedder. Photo: DPA
15:41 CEST+02:00
Big cities in Germany could soon see 'private sheriffs' patrolling the streets of problem areas to combat crime, if Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative Christian Democratic Union has its way.

The idea was put forward by the party in a position paper seen by the Berliner Zeitung newspaper as it reported on Wednesday.

The privately engaged neighbourhood 'sheriffs' would not have any particular rights, but would be able to encourage order and cleanliness, the paper said. There was no mention of how they would be funded or what the difference to municipal Ordungsamt officials would be.

“Through their constant presence, they could quickly become respected and valued contact people in the neighbourhoods for smaller and bigger problems,” the paper said.

They would be deployed in problem areas where criminality was reducing quality of life for normal citizens.

It was not acceptable that young criminals and violence-prone youths, “put whole districts in fear and dread,” the paper – from among others CDU general secretary Hermann Gröhe and the party's candidate for mayor in Berlin, Frank Henkel.

The proposal comes after several high-profile incidents of violence at metro stations in big cities.

But the police officers' union immediately shot down the proposal, calling it unacceptable. The suggestion was just a, “renewed, helpless attempt of politicians to cover up the glaring lack of personnel among the police,” said Bernhard Witthaut, chairman of the GdP union on Wednesday.

He said people wanted, “competent contacts, who can act at any time and without delay,” and only the police were able to provide this.

The CDU proposal was an easily recognised tranquillizer pill for the public, he said, pointing out that thousands of police force jobs had been cut over the last few years and seemed set to continue.

“Politicians have thrown away much trust from within the population and the police,” he said.

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