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Germany: Minister demands 'zero tolerance' for violent crime

April 9, 2024

Crime in Germany is at its highest level since 2016, according to a new report. Interior Minister Nancy Faeser has promised "consequences," and called for more effective prevention.

German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser in the Bundestag
Germany has seen violent crime reach a 15-year high, according to new dataImage: Jonathan Penschek/dpa/picture alliance

German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser insisted on Tuesday that Germany remains "one of the safest countries in the world" but nevertheless promised action to tackle rising violent crime, particularly among young people and foreigners.

"There is never any justification for violence, no ifs, no buts," said the center-left Social Democrat politician as she officially presented annual police statistics which showed a 5.5% increase in crime and an 8.6% rise in violent crime in 2023.

Demanding "zero tolerance," Faeser called for "vigorous policing, swift trials, meaningful sentencing and tangible punishments."

She said: "Criminals must feel the consequences of their actions — and quickly."

According to the statistics, 5.94 million crimes were recorded in Germany last year, including a nearly 7% increase in cases of dangerous and serious bodily harm, with 154,541 cases recorded — the highest number ever. 

Cases of intentional simple bodily harm increased by 7.4% to 429,157.

A third of crimes, 1.97 million, were theft offenses, which rose 10.7% last year nationwide, but over 35% in the city-state of Berlin.

Youth and migrant crime

The statistics also showed a 14.5% increase in the number of non-German suspects of violent crime, an issue that Faeser said needed to be addressed clearly.

"For foreign criminals, this means, in addition to the immediate criminal punishments, that they will have to leave Germany much quicker than previously," she said.

"Here too, it's about prevention as well as repression. We have increased the number of participants in integration courses threefold in order to convey from day one in Germany which rules and which values we live by," Faeser said. "Put simply, it's about respect, not violence."

"Our state protects people regardless of where their family may once have come from, how much money they have, who they believe in or who they love. But those who don't stick to the rules, have to go."

Faeser also highlighted the effects of the COVID pandemic in contributing to an increase in crime among young people.

"The restrictions were an enormous burden, particularly for young people: no school, no sport, no daily contact with friends," she said.

"We will continue learning lessons from the pandemic, about how massively children and young people suffered and how social upheaval has led to violence," she added, promising a "comprehensive evaluation of the pandemic measures."

Germany seeks coordinated action against cocaine trafficking

War on drugs

Finally, Faeser addressed the increase in drug-related crime.

Criminal acts in Germany linked to cocaine and crack up almost 30%, which Faeser put down to a "tidal wave" of cocaine arriving in Europe from South America.

"The billion-dollar industry of the drug cartels leads to a brutal escalation in violence which we are already seeing in Belgium and the Netherlands," she said. "I do not want to see this in Germany,"

She said the German government had already reached agreements with Brazil, Peru, Ecuador and Colombia to cooperate in the war on drugs.

Sharp rise in crime in Germany

mf/ab (dpa, AFP, Reuters)

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