The AfD not only uses new crime statistics as a slogan against “multiculturalism”. A closer look shows that the connection is unfounded.

symbolic image of arrest

Every crime leaves victims who suffer from it; By the way, a quarter of them are “non-German”. Photo: Monika Skolimowska/dpa

The reflections started again immediately. As ordered, the AfD complained of “imported crime” and “multicultural madness.” Union representatives declared “illegal migration” a “security risk,” calling for deportations, border controls and, once again, an upper limit. Parts of the FDP also agreed. Police unionists called for more staff and powers. Everything is to be expected, everything is routine. It is an annual spectacle as soon as police crime statistics are presented. A mostly inconsequential one.

The numbers certainly give reason to take action. Just not in the way currently discussed. The German police counted some 5,940,000 crimes last year, an increase of 5.5 percent and the highest figure since 2017. The majority of them were robberies (a third), followed by fraud (12 percent) and injuries physical (10 percent). Violent crime increased by 8 per cent, robberies by 17 per cent and knife attacks by almost 10 per cent. Children and young people in particular are committing more crimes. And also people who are considered “non-German” in statistics.

This is not reassuring, but it is not a cause for panic either. The total number of crimes was almost always higher for years, from 1993 to 2016. And crimes committed by “non-Germans” also initially decreased for several years after 2016. Is everything getting worse? No. And the BKA was already preparing for the fact that after the end of the Corona restrictions there would be more opportunities and therefore more crimes.

Furthermore, the population in Germany is growing and with it the number of crimes. A greater number of “non-German” residents leads to more crimes by this group; If you put this into perspective, the increase stabilizes. And refugees in particular have several risk factors: they are often young and male, have their own experiences of violence, and live in overcrowded accommodation and socially tense situations. These are factors that increase everyone's susceptibility to crime. Criminology does not support the accusation of cultural influence: what is decisive is not nationality, but social situation.

But the social left should not completely rule out the debate either. Every crime leaves victims who suffer as a result.

And it remains true that crime statistics only count crimes that have come to the attention of the police and therefore not the crime itself. The large number of unreported cases remains open, as does the question of whether the numbers are increasing only because police or prosecutors are taking a closer look at a crime. It remains true that the category of “non-Germans”, which is now causing a stir, is covered by the police in very different ways: with refugees, tourists or long-term residents without a German passport; and with crimes such as “unauthorized entry” that only “non-Germans” can commit, which are also reported and controlled more frequently by the police. So you can't generalize like that. The debate could end here. But this is not the case, because the figures are too much of a model for those who have always rejected migration.

Focus on intensive offenders

But the social left should not completely rule out the debate either. Every crime leaves suffering victims; a quarter of them are “non-German”, by the way. Of course, every crime must be prosecuted, regardless of who committed it. It would make sense to focus on heavy offenders, regardless of where they come from. Violence perpetrated by young people in particular can shape the next generation; Nothing should break here. Furthermore, dark field studies and victim surveys show that an increase in crime is reported there as well. So crime statistics are not just a pipe dream.

Relying on deportation and a cap as an answer will not work, especially in practice. Many of the suspects have lived in this country for a long time or always have and will continue to do so. Even if it costs more: the focus should not be on the passport, but on social causes.

Participation, perspectives, education and help are needed for people in emergency situations, for everyone. Projects targeting schools, refugee accommodation and socially disadvantaged areas need to be significantly strengthened. It is necessary to make clear what consequences violence has, both for perpetrators and victims. Even more disastrous is the recent debate on citizen benefits or child poverty, as well as cuts to immigration advice or psychosocial centers for refugees. Whoever saves money here will not solve the problems, they will only aggravate them and will not improve any crime statistics.