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Germany's crime rate falls to lowest level in decades

April 2, 2019

Break-ins, pickpocketing and reported sexual assaults dropped significantly in 2018, the newest figures show. Germany's interior minister warned, however, that the low crime rate is "not yet a sustainable success."

A person is taken away in handcuffs by German police
Image: picture alliance/dpa/B. Roessler

The crime rate in Germany has fallen for the second year in a row, according to the 2018 crime report that was published on Tuesday.

It's the lowest crime rate Germany has seen since 1992, but the Interior Ministry said the figures should be handled with caution — and did not provide any estimates on the number of unreported crimes.

The main takeaways:

The Federal Criminal Police Agency (BKA) detailed the number of reported criminal acts for 2018, including the following takeaways:

  • 5.56 million criminal acts were recorded in 2018 — down 3.6 percent from the previous year.
  • Robberies were significantly down, particularly home burglaries and pickpocketing cases.
  • The number of reported rape, sexual assault and harassment cases dropped by 18 percent.
  • Physical assaults on police officers rose significantly, up by 36 percent. The rise was due in part to stricter rules.
  • The distribution of pornographic material, particularly child porn, rose by 13.6 percent.
  • Drug offenses increased as well, by over 6 percent.
  • Police solved some 57.7 percent of cases last year. Some 96 percent of homicide cases were cleared.

Read more: Germany sees fewer attacks on Muslims and mosques in 2018

Fighting burglary: Police under pressure

'One of the safest countries in the world'

German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer hailed the latest crime report, noting that less than 1 percent of the population reported being a victim of a serious crime.

"Germany is one of the safest countries in the world," Seehofer said while presenting the report at a press conference. "Of course, every crime is one too many, but this is objectively one of the lowest [crime] rates in decades.

Despite the lower crime rate, Seehofer said that "it is not yet a sustainable success" and advocated for further political action to strengthen police forces with more personnel and equipment.

Read more: Domestic violence in Germany — Woman killed every 3 days

Population feels unsafe

Although the number of reported crimes is down, those statistics are not necessarily reflected in the way that people in Germany feel.

The BKA also released the results of a 2017 "victimization survey," where they asked people in 2017 about how safe they feel and whether they'd been a victim of a crime. The number of people who said they felt unsafe in their surroundings went up from 17.3 percent in 2012 to 21.4 percent in 2017, BKA president Holger Münch said.

Foreign suspect rates remain unchanged: Out of all the suspects logged by police in the report, around 34 percent of them were described as non-German — a figure that is slightly down from last year. Seehofer cautioned against politicizing statistics on foreign suspects.

"No-go areas" - Is Germany unsafe?

rs/jm (dpa, AFP)

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