In mid-June 2018, US president Donald Trump tweeted that the crime rate in Germany rose by more than ten percent because of the immigrants who were allowed into the country in recent years. Is this just another speculative Trump-Tweet or a disconcerting development?
Since the beginning of 2017, the Federal Office for Migrants and Refugees (German acronym: BAMF) publishes statistics on how many people are seeking asylum in Germany. It also describes the development from 2014 to 2018. The highest rise happened 2015 with an increase of almost 373% in comparison to the year before. Since then, the number of asylum-seeking people has decreased continuously. The decrease from 2017 to 2018 was about 11.8%. Last year, only 164,693 people sought asylum in Germany which is 31% less than 2014 – the year before the sudden increase in numbers.
This factcheck will only focus on the years 2014 to 2018 because Donald Trump probably refers to this period.
The German Federal Office of Criminal Investigation (BKA) releases an anual report on the status of crime in Germany in conjuction with immigration. This report shows not only the overall crime rate but also the rate of various types of crime. The numbers used in this report are from the police crime statistic (PKS), a well known source and the most-quoted crime statistic in Germany. The PKS ist also published by the BKA.
Trump has only tweeted about “crime“ and didn’t mention any specific types of crime. Therefore, this factcheck will look at the overall crime rate as well as three types of crime which Trump could have meant: offences against life, offences against sexual self-determination and acts of brutality/crimes against personal freedom.
Overall crime: The number of offences has decreased in the last couple of years. Only in 2016 did it rise by 0.04%. With 3,045,321 offences, 2018 is the year with the lowest crime rate in the reviewed time period. A rise of ten percent did not happen.
Offences against life: This type of crime encompasses murder, homicide and manslaughter. Attempts are also counted. Since 2015, the number of solved cases rises steadily. 2018 is the year with the highest number of offences against life: 3007 cases are a ten percent increase compared to 2015. However, the 2018 data includes the truck attack on a Christmas market in Berlin in 2016. Due to this, dozens of injured victims are included in this statistic. Therefore the data from 2018 and 2015 are not easily comparable because the difference can be attributed to a single terrible attack.
Offences against sexual self-determination: This type comprises rape, sexual abuse of children and sexual duress. Attempts are also counted. Striking is the rise of crimes since 2015 and especially the increases since 2016 with 18.4% and 15.4% respectively. The numbers of 2018 are 40% above those of 2014. This increase might be due to a reform in legislation on sex offences in 2016. Part of the reform is the “no means no“ principle which strenghtens the victim’s rights. Today, an offence may be regarded as rape even if the victim doesn’t defend oneself actively. It’s enough if the victim expresses, verbally or non-verbally, that she or he does not consent to the actions. Another reform is that inappropiate grabbing is defined as crime and counted as sexual molesting.
Brutality/offences against personal freedom: This type of offence is defined as bodily injuries, robbery, deprivation of liberty, duress, threat or kidnapping. As before, attempts are also counted. The only increase from one year to another was in 2016 with 6.7% more than 2015. Although the numbers are currently decreasing, there was an increase of 3.5% since 2015.
The statement of Donald Trump is mostly false. The number of crimes has been decreasing for the past three years. The development “since migrants were accepted“ shows a decrease of 3.7% from 2015 to 2018. With regard to offences against personal freedom, we do not see a ten percent increase in this period. There is a ten percent increase in the sector of offences against life but the high level of 2018 is due to a single terrorist attack in Berlin. The large increase of 40% regarding offences against sexual-determination could be attributed to a reformed legislation about what counts as such an offence: The numbers before and after 2016 do not allow a useful comparison. But in the years after the refomation, an increase of more than ten percent is found.
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