New report shows ‘Berlin is growing but crime is not’

New report shows 'Berlin is growing but crime is not'
Police in Berlin. Photo: DPA
A new report by Berlin police on Monday revealed that homicides are at a historic low as the capital continues to take in more residents, but theft still remains a continued concern.

Berlin saw a very slight drop in crime last year compared to 2015, with a 0.1 percent decrease to 568,860 crimes committed overall.

And this is still less than the amount reported 20 years ago during a spike in crime in the mid-1990s when the number of crimes reported reached nearly 600,000 per year.

“Berlin is growing, but crime is not,” said Berlin interior minister Andreas Geisel during a presentation in city hall, according to Tagesspiegel.

Geisel pointed out that between 2015 and 2016, the capital city’s population grew by 60,000 new Berliners, while 689 fewer crimes were recorded by police.

“The constantly repeated claim that it’s always getting worse in Berlin is false,” said police president Klaus Kandt.

In particular, murder and manslaughter cases fell by 18 percent compared to 2015 with 92 incidents last year. This is the first time the number of homicides has dropped below 100 in more than two decades.

There was, however, an overall increase in assault, with around 5 percent more incidents recorded last year than in 2015.

The most frequent crimes committed were thefts, making up about half of all incidents reported.

Sexual crimes increased slightly, by 2 percent, but overall such crimes have seen a decrease of 13 percent since they reached a high point in 2007, when 3,269 cases were reported.

Compared to 2015, the number of reported rapes – the most serious assaults included within the number of sex crimes – dropped by about 6 percent.

But the amount of sexual insults reported jumped by nearly 43 percent to 1,255 incidents. Police note in their report that this steep rise may be as a result of more women coming forward to report such crimes after the publicity surrounding the mass sexual assaults committed on New Year’s Eve 2015-16 than a huge rise in the number of incidents themselves.

Greater immigration into the city contributed to the figures showing a larger number of suspects being either refugees or undocumented immigrants.

This group made up about 7 percent of all suspects, or 9,614 suspects compared to 6,780 in 2015. Still, the report noted that the criteria for placing a suspect in this category including asylum seekers and undocumented immigrants had been expanded since 2015, and therefore the the figures cannot be exactly compared.

Politically motivated crimes highest in decade

The number of politically motivated crimes rose by 8 percent over 2015, with 4,112 incidents reported. This is the highest number of such crimes recorded since 2003 when authorities first started recording these cases as a distinct category.

Violent political crimes, though, sank by 5 percent, down to 664 cases.

Right-wing motivated crimes fell by about 5 percent to 1,588 crimes, making up the largest proportion of political crimes at nearly 40 percent of the total.

Left-wing associated crimes rose by 16 percent to 1,226 cases.