New crime statistics on Germany's ten biggest cities for 2006 show banking metropolis, Frankfurt, to hold the dubious reputation of being the country's crime capital while Munich remains the country's safest city.
Frankfurt is better known for its highrises and famous skyline
Crime statistics for Germany's top ten cities in 2006 may paint a clear picture of the good and the bad, but experts say they mask a rather differentiated crime map across the country.
Frankfurt registered 16,378 crimes per 100,000 inhabitants in 2006, making it Germany's most dangerous city, according to statistics. The 650,000-strong banking capital on the Main river was followed by another wealthy West German city, Düsseldorf, which jumped from number five to two in the crime table with 14,989 recorded crimes per 100,000 inhabitants.
German capital, Berlin came in fifth with 14,632 crimes last year.
"People in Frankfurt aren't more criminal"
But according to German news agency dpa, the statistics don't necessarily provide the full picture.
In a survey, dpa said police in Berlin, Hamburg, Frankfurt, Bremen, Dortmund and Essen recorded fewer crimes as compared to 2005 while authorities in Düsseldorf, Cologne, Stuttgart and Munich registered more crimes for the same period.
Frankfurt is one of Europe's biggest airports
Christian Pfeiffer, head of the Criminological Research Institute of Lower Saxony, pointed out that Frankfurt appeared to be the country's most dangerous cities because crimes committed in the city's international airport -- one of the largest in Europe -- were included in the overall statistics.
"That's imported criminality. The people in Frankfurt aren't more criminal than elsewhere," Pfeiffer said.
"The overall trend in the development of criminality in Germany remains positive, on a long-term comparison the number of crimes is continually falling," he added.
Violent crime on the rise
Experts say the greying of Germany's population is partly responsible for a continual decline in crimes such as stealing, bank robberies and car theft. At the same time violent crimes and Internet criminality are on the rise, particularly among younger people.
Statistics showed that Cologne registered a three-fold increase in homicides last year, from 20 to 57 while Hamburg saw a 4.2 increase in violent crime with 210 cases. The city of Stuttgart in the south, recorded an increase of 1.4 percent in offenders below the age of 21.
Berlin, where registered crimes sank to their lowest level since 1990 last year, the city saw a jump of 8.4 percent in teenage gang crime.
"Perceived criminality" doesn't correspond to reality
Pfeiffer, whose institute conducts studies on crime and criminal behaviour, says there's an ever widening gap between "perceived criminality" and reality, particularly in the case of sex murders.
The rape and murder of a 9-year-old boy recently made headlines in Germany
"For years the number of fatal sex crimes has been on the wane yet people believe that it's increased six-fold," Pfeiffer said, adding that an increased reporting on such crimes in the media was responsible for the perception.
He said that reports on such crimes had increased three times in the past ten years in the print media and six times on private television broadcasters.
With the number of solved crimes remaining fairly constant, most experts say the police are doing a good job. Fighting Internet criminality however remains a challenge.