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Police misled public on Cologne NYE operations

Police have conceded that only 80 police officers were present at Cologne train station during mass assaults on New Year’s Eve - not the 140 they originally stated.

Police misled public on Cologne NYE operations
Photo: DPA

After news broke that women had been sexually assaulted and robbed on a mass scale at Cologne train station on New Year’s Eve, police originally claimed that 140 officers were present at the scene in attempt to re-establish order.

But the Kölner Express has now seen figures which show that the real number was in fact 80.

A police spokesperson told the Express that the reason for the falsely published number was “mistaken information during the initial phase of police reporting.”

“All the manpower of the riot police were brought to the scene, but not all police officers that were put on duty that evening,” the spokesperson explained.

The Express concludes that that means only 80 officers were sent to the station and that this number was reduced after midnight as officers were sent to deal with incidents in other parts of the city – despite the fact that later complaints show attacks at the station continued throughout the night.

The police didn’t want to go into more detail about the operation “due to the pending investigations into the actions of on-duty police officers as well as the ex-police chief Wolfgang Albers,” the spokesperson added.

Albers lost his job shortly after the mass assaults in and around the train station which led to over 1,000 complaints being made to police in the coming weeks.

Initial police reports claimed that the night had passed without trouble and only after women talked of their experiences on social media did the police begin to concede the true scale of events.

Because the perpetrators were largely described as being of North African appearance, some have accused the police of excessive political correctness in not initially reporting the incidents.

Other commentators have however suggested that they were attempting to cover up for a bungled operation that underestimated the likelihood of trouble.

Cologne police again made negative headlines on Wednesday, when parents of pupils at a high school in the city accused them of being slow to react when over 100 students from other schools attacked them, some using fireworks and glass bottles as weapons.

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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