1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

Germany: Violent crime reaches 15-year high — report

April 6, 2024

Germany recorded more than 214,000 criminal acts of violence last year, according to official police statistics. Overall crime also rose, according to data seen by the German paper Welt am Sonntag.

The front of a German police van in Berlin on November 23, 2023
Germany saw a 5.5% rise in crimes recorded last yearImage: Sven Kaeuler/dpa/picture alliance

Germany recorded a large rise in violent crime in 2023, the first year without pandemic restrictions, police statistics published Saturday showed.

Welt am Sonntag, which gained exclusive access to the data, said violent crime climbed 8.6%, to 214,099 cases — a 15-year high.

The newspaper said there was 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.

More crime overall; Berlin is least safe state

Overall, the number of crimes recorded in Germany rose to 5.94 million last year, an increase of 5.5% over 2023 and 9.3% higher than in 2019, before the pandemic.

The number of suspects arrested rose by 7.3% to 2.246 million and 41.3% of them did not have a German passport.

Among the people without German nationality who were charged, 402,514 were described as refugees, asylum seekers and those who entered the country illegally.

In 2023, the offense of unauthorized entry rose 40% over the previous year, to 93,158 cases, while the offense of unauthorized stay increased by nearly 29% to 187,059 cases.

A third of crimes (1.971 million) were theft offenses, which rose 10.7% last year.

Berlin recorded the biggest rise in burglaries out of all German states, with an increase of 35.2%.

The state hosting the German capital also came out tops in terms of the most dangerous place to live in terms of crime, followed by Bremen, Hamburg and Saxony Anhalt. Bavaria remains the safest German state.

The number of all recorded crimes solved, where charges were brought, was 58.4%, the police statistics showed.

Politicians cite several reasons for increase

Responding to the increase in violent crime, Herbert Reul, the Interior Minister for the western state of North Rhine-Westphalia said the mood in German society had changed.

"Conflicts are solved more quickly with fists instead of words. The fuse has become shorter," the conservative lawmaker told Welt am Sonntag.

Describing how the wars in Gaza and Ukraine had further fueled division in society, he said: "It's like a big powder keg."

Germany's Jews and antisemitism: A complex reality

Germany has recorded a sharp rise in antisemitism and Islamophobia since Hamas launched an attack on Israel on October 7 and Israel retaliated with a major air and ground offensive in Gaza.

Considering other reasons, Lower Saxony's Interior Minister Daniela Behrens said: "It can be assumed that the increase in violent crime can no longer be explained solely by catch-up effects after the COVID-19 pandemic."

Inflation, increased mobility after the pandemic and migration were all plausible reasons for the increase, the center-left Social Democrat politician said.

Edited by: Alex Berry

While you're here: Every Tuesday, DW editors round up what is happening in German politics and society. You can sign up here for the weekly email newsletter Berlin Briefing.