On March 25th, 2021, Laura Sachslehner, a member of the Viennese city parliament (ÖVP, Austria’s Peoples Party), Laura Sachslehner, posted a video excerpt of her speech claiming that “attacks on police officers are an everyday occurence in Vienna“. The politician does not cite any source to support her statement. Her claim is uncheckable.
Laura Sachslehner’s statement leaves the impression that Viennese police officers are under constant threat by citizens. But is it true that police officers are attacked on a daily basis?
When asked for a corresponding statistic by the Federal Ministry of the Interior to which the Austrian police forces are subordinate, no serious statement can be made in this regard, according to Patrick Maierhofer, departmental spokesperson of the Federal Ministry of the Interior:
“Since in the subjective perception of individual persons, a verbal assault on police officers can already be considered an assault, while others only consider a physical assault with injury to be an assault – no serious statement can be made on their request. […] In this respect, there are no collected statistics for this.“
Maierhofer refers to possible statistics collected by the Vienna Provincial Police Directorate. After enquiring at the Police Department of Vienna, press spokeswoman Barbara Gass stated that it was not possible to give a general answer to whether attacks on the police are a daily occurrence in Vienna. She however provided the following statistics on the matter:
“In 2019, we had to record 389 police officers injured by external force, in 2020 392. This year, there have been 92 (01.01.2021 – to date) injured officers so far.“
Judging by these numbers, one could come to the conclusion that police officers are indeed attacked on a daily basis. Yet, a simple division (number of attacks / number of days) does not take into consideration mass events such as demonstrations or football games. Due to the number of participants in such events, the chance of attacks and/or injuries of police offices rises.
Hence, we wanted to know if there are more details on the provided numbers and circumstances. However, follow-up-questions were not answered by the Department on the grounds of an „enormous administrative burden”.
Also, Laura Sachslehner did not want to comment on the basis of which sources she had used when making her statement. All our enquiries remained unanswered.
At this point, the statement cannot be confirmed or refuted. Since the term “attack“ can be understood in a very broad sense and Ms. Sachslehner did not respond to enquiries to disclose the source, we classify the statement as uncheckable.
RESEARCH | ARTICLE © University of Applied Sciences for Management and Communication Vienna, Austria
Leave your comments, thoughts and suggestions in the box below. Take note: your response is moderated.