Felonious Frankfurt

Crime down strongly in Germany

crime, german police
Maybe their jobs aren't so secure. Source: DPA

Frankfurt last year reclaimed its spot as Germany’s perennial crime champion, recording the most incidents per 100,000 residents, though crime is down overall in Europe’s most populous country. Frankfurt had 14,864 crimes per 100,000 residents in 2017, according to the Welt am Sonntag newspaper, which cited police figures.

The central city of Hannover came in second last year, with 14,616 crimes per 100,000 residents, while Berlin came in third with 14,558, followed by Dresden and Leipzig, according to the paper. Munich remains the country’s safest city, with just 6,627 crimes per 100,000 residents, closely tailed by Augsburg. The study analyzed crime statistics for 39 German cities with populations above 200,000.

Although Berlin was Germany’s most crime-ridden city in 2016, Frankfurt has repeatedly been in the top spot, in part because it’s home to the country’s busiest airport. The city, with a population of 732,000, boasts Germany’s financial center with its glass and steel skyscrapers but is also known for highly visible heroin consumption in and around its main train station.

The official 2017 crime figures will be released by Interior Minister Horst Seehofer on May 8 in Berlin. The police last year recorded a total 5.8 million crimes, a decrease of 9.6 percent from 2016, reportedly the strongest drop in 25 years. The head of the German police union, Oliver Malchow, told the paper people should be careful not to make “premature conclusions on security.”

A CDU deputy said the overall decrease in crime proves Germany's federal investment in interior security is paying off.

Although all signs point to increased security in Germany, fear of globalization, terrorism or migration leads some people to feel unsafe, said Holger Münch of the federal criminal police office. “Trust is a deciding factor for people feeling safe,” he said, and the police has to earn that trust by proving competence, transparency and integrity.

Still, not all figures are decreasing. Officers shot 15 people in the line of duty last year and injured 40, according to the Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung; in 2016, German police officers shot 11 and injured 28.

Crimes in schools also appear to be on the rise, with the number of minor suspects growing by 21 percent in Lower Saxony, according to reports. However, criminologist Christian Pfeiffer said the increase may be the result of heightened awareness — and readiness to report — school-related crime in part because of high-profile cases involving immigrant children, according to DPA.

But Stephan Harbarth, the deputy leader of the CDU parliamentary party, said the overall decrease in crime proves the federal investment in interior security is paying off. “We aren’t going to rest on our laurels — these numbers are an encouragement.”

Andrew Bulkeley is an editor in Berlin for Handelsblatt Global. To contact the author: a.bulkeley@handelsblattgroup.com

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