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CRIME

Crime in Germany falls to lowest level in 30 years

The number of crimes reported to the German police force has fallen for the fifth year in a row.

Police officers ride together on motorcycles in Erfurt, Thuringia
Police officers ride together on motorcycles in Erfurt, Thuringia. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Martin Schutt

According to the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA), around 5.05 million criminal offences were reported to the authorities last year, representing the lowest number since 1992.

From 1993 to 2009 and from 2014 to 2016, more than six million crimes were reported in Germany on an annual basis. Crime levels fell by around five percent between 2020 and 2021, while the number of crimes solved by the police increased to around 58 percent of cases. 

Around 1,890,000 suspects were identified – two-thirds of whom were male.

According to the BKA, the lower crime rates are a knock-on effect of the Covid pandemic and its ensuing restrictions on public life.

Due to measures such as lockdowns, curfews and closures of public venues, would-be criminals had much less opportunity to commit crime in 2021.

The number of registered thefts fell by about 11.8 percent compared to the previous year, and assaults also decreased by about ten percent.

On the other hand, the Covid restrictions led to a shift of offences to the internet or the home.

In the area of cybercrime, almost 16,000 more cases were counted in 2021 than in 2020 – an increase of 12.1 percent.

READ ALSO: Germany searches 100 suspects over political hate speech

Illegal distribution of pornographic content increased by 87.8 per cent, while the distribution of child pornography more than doubled and child abuse cases rose by six percent.

“The crime statistics show a positive development in most areas,” said Interior Minister Nancy Faeser. “The consistent increase in the rate of crimes solved shows that the strengthening of the police is paying off.

“However, the appalling extent of sexualised violence against children is for me a clear mandate to act with all consistency. For me, combating the sexual abuse of children and the dissemination of heinous abuse photos and videos via the internet is a top priority.”

To tackle this growing issue, Faeser said the Interior Ministry would strengthen the role of the Federal Criminal Police Office and improve data analysis and AI capabilities for investigating crimes against children. 

“My goal is clear: no perpetrator should feel safe,” she said. 

Vocabulary

crime – (die) Straftat 

restrictions – (die) Einschränkungen

to fall / decrease – sinken 

appalling – entsetzlich 

We’re aiming to help our readers improve their German by translating vocabulary from some of our news stories. Did you find this article useful? Let us know.

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CRIME

German police foil teenage school ‘Nazi attack’

German investigators said Thursday they foiled a school bomb attack, as they arrested a 16-year-old who is suspected to have been planning a "Nazi terror attack".

German police foil teenage school 'Nazi attack'

“The police prevented a nightmare,” said Herbert Reul, interior minister of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) state.

Police in the city of Essen had stormed the teen’s room overnight, taking him into custody and uncovering 16 “pipe bombs”, as well as anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim material.

Some of the pipe bombs found contained nails, but officers did not find any detonators, Reul said.

There are “indications suggesting the young man has serious psychiatric problems and suicidal thoughts,” said Reul.

Material found so far in the suspect’s room include his own writing which constituted “a call for urgent help by a desperate young man.”

The suspect was allegedly planning to target his current school or another where he studied previously.

“All democrats have a common task to fight against racism, brutalisation and hate,” said NRW’s deputy premier Joachim Stamp, as he thanked police for “preventing a suspected Nazi terror attack”.

The suspect is being questioned while investigators continue to comb his home for evidence.

Investigators believe that he was acting alone.

They had been tipped off by another teen who informed them that the young man “wanted to place bombs in his school”, located about 800 metres from his home.

The school, as well as another institution, were closed on Thursday as investigators undertook fingertip searches as the locations to ensure that no bombs had been placed on site.

‘Neo-Nazi networks’ 

Germany has been rocked by several far-right assaults in recent years, sparking accusations that the government was not doing enough to stamp out neo-Nazi violence.

In February 2020 a far-right extremist shot dead 10 people and wounded five others in the central German city of Hanau.

Large amounts of material championing conspiracy theories and far-right ideology were subsequently found in the gunman’s apartment.

And in 2019, two people were killed after a neo-Nazi tried to storm a synagogue in Halle on the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur.

Germany’s centre-left-led government under Chancellor Olaf Scholz took office in December pledging a decisive fight against far-right militants and investigators in April carried out country-wide raids against “neo-Nazi networks”, arresting four suspects.

The suspects targeted in the raids were believed to belong to the far-right martial arts group Knockout 51, the banned Combat 18 group named after theorder in the alphabet of Adolf Hitler’s initials, US-based Atomwaffen (Atomic) Division or the online propaganda group Sonderkommando 1418.

German authorities were also battling to clean extremists from within their ranks. Last year, the state of Hesse said it was dissolving Frankfurt’s elite police force after several officers were accused of participating in far-right online chats and swapping neo-Nazi symbols.

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