5 things we learned from the latest German national crime report

The Interior Ministry released a new report on Monday detailing increases and decreases in crimes committed in 2016. Here are the findings that stood out the most.

5 things we learned from the latest German national crime report
File photo: DPA.

1. Slight decrease in crime rate per capita

The total number of crimes recorded in 2016 compared to 2015 did not change significantly, increasing from 6.33 million cases to 6.37 million. That’s a difference of less than 1 percent.

And the frequency rate of crimes actually sank by about 0.5 percent, down from 7,797 crimes per 100,000 residents in 2015, to 7,755 crimes per 100,000 people in 2016.

And when excluding crimes that related to immigration policy violations – such as illegal stay or entry – the overall number of crimes dropped by 0.7 percent.

Historically crime in Germany has been on a gradual decline, down from a high of more than 8,300 crimes committed per 100,000 residents in the early 1990s in the aftermath of the fall of the Berlin Wall and German reunification.

2.  More violent crimes, fewer break-ins

As German media outlets reported last week ahead of the official report’s release, the figures for 2016 showed an increase in violent crime and a decrease in home break-ins.

Murder and homicide increased by 14.3 percent, while rape and sexual assault rose by 12.8 percent.

At the same time, home break-ins dropped by 9.5 percent.

3. Number of non-German suspects increase, largely for immigration violations

The report showed an increase in the number of non-German suspects investigated, and noted that this was connected to a high number of immigration policy violations amid large groups of migrants arriving in the country. More than one-third of all non-German suspects were connected to violations such as entering or staying in the country illegally.

The overall number of non-German suspects investigated for crimes rose by 4.6 percent, and those without German citizenship made up 40 percent of total suspects.

When immigration-related crimes were excluded, the number of non-German suspects increased from 2015 by 10.9 percent and this group made up 30.5 percent of all suspects.

When excluding immigration-related crimes, the largest group of non-German suspects were Turkish – Germany’s largest ethnic minority – at 11.3 percent. Romanians made up the second largest group at 8.7 percent, followed by Polish suspects at 7.3 percent and Syrian suspects at 6.3 percent.

The report also breaks down crimes committed by a category of suspects including asylum seekers, refugees, and those considered illegally living in the country. The number of suspects within this category rose by 52.7 percent, as this population in Germany has also increased dramatically in recent years. This group also made up 8.6 percent of total suspects in non-immigration related crimes.

Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière stressed in his presentation of the report that the public should not place all refugees under suspicion.

“We cannot allow all refugees living among us to be sweepingly put under suspicion,” he said, according to the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.

“The vast majority live with us and adhere to our values and rules of a peaceful, democratic coexistence.”

4. Number of politically motivated crimes reaches record high

The number of politically motivated crimes once again rose last year, causing concern for de Maizière.

At more than 41,500 crimes committed within this category, there was a 6.6 percent increase on 2015. This was the fourth time in a row that such crimes reached a record high level.

“That is unacceptable,” said de Maizière, adding that the country had experienced increasing levels of disrespect, violence and hate.

The number of right-wing motivated crimes made up more than half (57 percent) of all politically motivated incidents at more than 23,500 crimes – an increase of 2.6 percent over 2015. And the number of right-wing violent crimes jumped up by 14.3 percent.

Meanwhile the number of left-wing motivated crimes fell by 2.2 percent with about 9,400 incidents recorded.

One category which saw a dramatic increase was those classified as being motivated by ideologies that are “imported” from other countries – including those of jihadists and Isis supporters. There were more than 3,300 cases total last year, which was an increase of 66.5 percent on 2015. These cases were largely due to conflicts among Turks involving the banned Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

Last year saw tensions in Germany as well as Turkey rise in particular after the failed coup attempt against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s regime last July, after which the government began to crack down on perceived dissidents, including Kurds.

The Interior Ministry said earlier this month that is was investigating 20 people for allegedly spying on those thought to be opponents of the Ankara government inside Germany’s borders..

Tens of thousands of Kurds and others protested in Cologne last November against the arrests of pro-Kurdish politicians in Turkey.

5. Bavaria is the safest state, Berlin the least

When excluding immigration-related crimes, Bavaria was the safest state with a crime rate per capita of 4,785 per 100,000 residents.

Berlin has the highest crime frequency rate – more than double the national average – at 15,700 crimes per 100,000 residents.

Bremen had the second highest crime rate at more than 13,200 crimes per 100,000 people, followed by Hamburg at close to 13,000 crimes per 100,000 residents.


German police probe fatal knife attack on schoolgirl

Police were on Tuesday investigating a motive behind the fatal stabbing of a 14-year-old girl on her way to school in Baden-Württemberg in a case that made national headlines.

German police probe fatal knife attack on schoolgirl

According to police, a 27-year-old man attacked two girls on the street with a knife as they walked to school Monday morning in the small town of Illerkirchberg near Ulm.

The victim, a German girl with a Turkish family background, was revived at the scene but later died in hospital, police said.

A 13-year-old girl was also hurt in the incident but did not suffer
life-threatening injuries.

Police apprehended the suspect at “nearby asylum seekers’ accommodation”, they said.

The alleged aggressor was injured when he was stopped by police and was taken to receive medical treatment. He was currently being held in hospital under guard.

Google Maps shows the town of Illerkirchberg, which has a little over 5,000 residents, and sits on the border with Bavaria.

“We will fully investigate this terrible act,” announced Thomas Strobl, Baden-Württemberg’s Interior Minister on Monday. “We are deeply affected…when the life of an innocent child is so brutally taken.”

The crime has taken on a political dimension because the suspect is an asylum seeker from Eritrea. Several politicians from Germany’s far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) used the crime to question the country’s immigration policies. 

In the statement, a police spokesperson asked people “not to harbour general suspicions against strangers, or asylum seekers in general, or to encourage or support such suspicions.”

She said she was aware “that events of this kind stir up fears and emotions.”

The Turkish ambassador to Germany, Ahmet Basar Sen, was set to visit the scene of the crime Tuesday with  Strobl, and the mayor of Illerkirchberg.

“I mourn the girl who was killed and sincerely hope that the injured girl will recover,” Federal Interior Minister Nancy Faeser posted on Twitter Monday.

“The police are urgently investigating the background” of the attack, she said.