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POLICE

‘At least 400’ school massacre threats a year

Each year at least 400 German schoolchildren threaten to attack their school or college, a new study based on previously unpublished data shows. Poor record keeping is probably keeping the figure artificially low, its author warned.

'At least 400' school massacre threats a year
Photo: DPA

More than 2,600 reports of a pupil threatening to attack fellow pupils or teachers were received between 2006 and 2010 alone, Cologne university psychologist Sarah Neuhäuser told Wednesday’s Kölner Stadt Anzeiger newspaper.

She compiled her report using data from state interior ministries which was, she said, “very sensitive and it was not easy to collect.”

Nearly half of the threats came from the western state of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW), where in those four years, 1,279 threats were recorded.

In May 2009 alone in NRW, more than 100 threats were scrawled on chalkboards, posted on the internet or spread by word of mouth.

But Neuhäuser said other states would have similar numbers if they were similarly diligent in reporting threats. As of yet, there is no nationwide report on such threats – and Neuhäuser said she was only able to get data from 10 of Germany’s 16 states.

“If other states were to document threats as well as others, their quotes would be similarly high [as NRW],” she said.

Germany has seen several fatal attacks in schools over the last decade, the worst of which was in 2002 when 19-year-old Robert Steinhäuser attacked his former school in Erfurt. He picked out mostly teachers, killing 12 as well as two students, the school secretary and a policeman before locking himself in a cupboard and shooting himself dead.

That attack, and the one in Winnenden in 2009, when 17-year-old Tim Kretschmer killed 15 people and then himself, have often been cited as inspiration by others who make threats.

The Local/jcw

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POLICE

German police under fire for using tracing app to find witnesses

German police drew criticism Tuesday for using an app to trace contacts from bars and restaurants in the fight against the pandemic as part of an investigation.

A barcode used for the Luca check-in app to trace possible Covid contacts at a Stuttgart restaurant.
A barcode used for the Luca check-in app to trace possible Covid contacts at a Stuttgart restaurant. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Marijan Murat

The case stemming from November last year began after the fatal fall of a man while leaving a restaurant in the western city of Mainz.

Police seeking possible witnesses made use of data from an app known as Luca, which was designed for patrons to register time spent in restaurants and taverns to track the possible spread of coronavirus.

Luca records the length of time spent at an establishment along with the patron’s full name, address and telephone number – all subject to Germany’s strict data protection laws.

However the police and local prosecutors in the case in Mainz successfully appealed to the municipal health authorities to gain access to information about 21 people who visited the restaurant at the same time as the man who died.

After an outcry, prosecutors apologised to the people involved and the local data protection authority has opened an inquiry into the affair.

“We condemn the abuse of Luca data collected to protect against infections,” said the company that developed the Luca app, culture4life, in a statement.

It added that it had received frequent requests for its data from the authorities which it routinely rejected.

Konstantin von Notz, a senior politician from the Greens, junior partners in the federal coalition, warned that abuse of the app could undermine public trust.

“We must not allow faith in digital apps, which are an important tool in the fight against Covid-19, to disappear,” he told Tuesday’s edition of Handelsblatt business daily.

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