Attacks on police, fire fighters show increase in Germany
Firefighters and police officers are being attacked more and more frequently while on the call of duty, according to a parliamentary statement published on Friday.
Within four years, the number of verbal and physical crimes against police officers, rescue forces, firefighters, customs officials and federal emergency services rose by 22 percent.
In 2017, 4,527 "enforcement officers and similar persons" became victims of violent crimes nationwide, according to the response of an inquiry that the Free Democrats (FDP) submitted to the German government.
The numbers represent a sharp increase since 2013, when 3,710 members of emergency forces were attacked.
These statistics, however, do not include cases which resulted in physical harm. These are recorded in police statistics as "violent crimes."
Between 41 percent and 49 percent of those attacked emergency personnel in recent years were under the influence of alcohol.
The proportion of female suspects has recently increased slightly: it was around 13 percent in 2017, according to the inquiry, which did not give the figure for prior years.
"The brutality with which our security forces are being attacked is also frightening,” said FDP interior politician Benjamin Strasser. “The interior ministers of the federal and state governments would have to take every opportunity to effectively protect our emergency services.”
The inquiry was spurred by a 2017 report from the Ruhr-Universität Bochum, in which about 64 percent of the surveyed emergency services personnel in North-Rhine Westphalia said that they had been the victims of verbal or physical violence in the past year.
It attributed the increase of violence to a “loss of empathy,” within society, the report stated.
After it was published, emergency personnel launched various campaigns against violence. In May 2018, the German fire service launched its “Gewalt geht gar nicht” (Violence is absolutely unacceptable) campaign in order to encourage respect and understanding for their staffers, and others working to protect the population.