Crime rates in Germany are down and the police are more effective, making the country one of the safest places in the world. That's the claim of Interior Minister Wolfgang Schäuble. Police unions, however, disagree.
Police unions say the new figures are misleading and that more cases go unreported
The overall number of crimes in Germany has dropped slightly and the police have been able to improve their rate of success in solving cases, making Germany one of the safest countries in the world, Interior Minister Wolfgang Schäuble said at the presentation of this country's latest criminal statistics.
A representative of the German police union, however, attributes the decrease in figures to other factors, including a rise in the number of cases not reported to police.
But judging solely by the official figures on crimes committed in Germany, Schäuble said that 2005 could again be described as a successful year for police here.
Apart from 2004, when there was a slight increase in the number of cases, 2005 saw the fourth drop in the crime rate in the past 5 years. According to statistics 6.39 million cases were reported in 2005 -- more than 240,000 or 3.6 percent less than in the previous year. German police was also able to improve their clear-up rate from 54.2 percent to 55, which testified to rising police efficiency, the interior minister said.
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"This shows that crime fighting in this country is very efficient and that police are doing an excellent job," Schäuble said. "This has also become possible because the German police are highly respected and trusted as public opinion polls have shown. They have made Germany one of the safest places in the world."
According to the 2005 statistics, capital crimes such as murder and manslaughter again dropped markedly by 3.4 percent, with a clear-up rate reaching almost 100 percent. Officials attributed this primarily to improved DNA-testing made available to police in recent years. There were also drops in cases of theft, break-ins, robbery and drug-related offenses.
Schäuble was relieved to announce that a rise in juvenile delinquency cases recorded in 2004 had been stopped. The number of foreigners involved in crime also showed a greater drop than other sectors of the population.
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On the rise was credit card and Internet-related fraud, reflecting the increased use of the net for purchasing goods. Cases of assault and severe bodily harm also rose by about 5 percent.
"This increase is due to greater awareness and subsequently more cases being reported for example at schools," said Günther Beckstein, the interior minister of Bavaria. "But it is first and foremost an indication that society as a whole shows a greater willingness to use violence. Campaigns to curb violence haven't achieved much which should be reason for concern to all of us."
Germany's police union, however, has criticized the report as being substantially flawed. Especially the number of unreported cases must be much higher than in previous years, union officials said, blaming cutbacks in manpower and equipment.