Short candidates in NRW cannot become police officers, court confirms

Judges in a court in North Rhine-Westphalia on Tuesday ruled that the state government’s standard minimum height for police officers in the state was acceptable.

Short candidates in NRW cannot become police officers, court confirms
The plaintiff in court with her lawyer on Tuesday. Photo: DPA

The height rule was “appropriate and very understandable”, said judge Andreas Müller at the administrative court in Düsseldorf.

At 1.60 metres tall, a female prospective police officer had felt disadvantaged by the minimum height requirement and took her case to court.

A minimum height set by the state government of 1.63 metres for both males and females has been in place in NRW for several months now.

The 24-year-old plaintiff’s lawyer argued that his client was very sporty and had already passed recruitment procedures with the federal police and the police in Lower Saxony and Hesse.

It is incomprehensible why she should be unsuitable for the police service in NRW, the lawyer said in court.

But the judges saw things differently and rejected the young woman’s appeal, stating that the plaintiff was too short and therefore unsuitable for the job.

The state of NRW has clearly demonstrated that a minimum height is appropriate for the police officers' own protection, the judges added. Taller police officers for instance are better able to look into cars during traffic checks and recognize potential dangers.

“We can see, of course, that she is fit,” said judge Müller. “It's a hardship, but you have to make a cut somewhere.”

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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.