Interior Minister Faeser presents the new crime statistics. The number of violent crimes is increasing. The reasons are varied.

A police tape

Please continue, there is nothing to see here. Photo: Sebastian Kahnert/dpa

Police crime statistics are higher than they have been in a long time. What are the numbers like?

In fact, the 5,940,667 crimes detected by the federal and state police in 2023 represent an increase of 5.5 percent compared to the previous year, the highest value since 2017. BKA President Holger Münch and Federal Minister of the Interior, Nancy Faeser (SPD), presented the figures. on Tuesday. 2,246,767 suspects were registered, an increase of 7.3 percent. 41 percent of them were “non-German.” Within this group, the number of suspects increased by 17.8 percent. The number of child suspects also increased by 12 percent and that of young people by 9.5 percent; Those without German passports are also well represented here.

In particular, violent crimes increased: 8.6 percent, to 214,099 cases, the highest level in 15 years. Robbery crimes increased by 17.4 per cent, thefts by 10.7 per cent and knife attacks by 9.7 per cent. Crimes against sexual self-determination were also recorded more frequently: an increase of 7 percent. However, serious violent crimes such as murder, manslaughter or rape only increased minimally. After all: the settlement rate also increased. In 2023 it was 58.4 percent, a good percentage point above the 2022 value.

But important: the figures are purely “initial statistics”: the police average because there is an initial suspicion. It remains to be seen whether the recorded acts ended up being criminal offenses and led to convictions. It is also unclear how many crimes were committed and went unreported and unrecorded; in other words, the dark field.

What is the reason for the increase?

This cannot be said clearly. A higher number of crimes may also mean that a particularly high number of crimes have been reported or that the police have taken a closer look. One explanation the BKA sees is the end of coronavirus restrictions. In 2023, people became more mobile again: there were more opportunities to commit crimes, as evidenced by the increase in robberies. The BKA also assumes that young people, who are already more likely to commit crimes, “catch up” and overdo it. Some also struggle with psychological stress caused by the coronavirus era, which could lead to crimes.

However, the current numbers are also 9.3 percent higher than in 2019, the last year before the coronavirus pandemic. The BKA therefore suspects that inflation is now also perceived as a serious problem motivating crime: the number of crimes is higher in economically weaker regions.

What's the deal with non-German suspects?

In fact, there is a significant increase here. But: the statistics also include violations of immigration law that only this group can commit: around 93,158 cases of “unauthorized entry” or 187,059 of “unauthorized stay”, both of which have increased significantly.

But even without these crimes, the proportion of non-German suspects increased by 13.5 percent. However, it should be noted that in 2023 many more people lived in Germany without a German passport than before, which is especially due to the war in Ukraine. Where there are more “non-German” people, there are also more crimes committed by this group. Refugees also combine several risk factors: they often suffer violence in their country of origin or when fleeing, live in overcrowded collective accommodation and are in a worse economic situation, also due to work bans.

Many crimes committed by these people without German passports are also directed against “non-Germans.” If you put these suspects in relation to the increase in the non-German population in this country, the increase in these suspects is even smaller than that of the German suspects. At this point, however, the picture remains a bit blurry. Because an exact reference value is not given. The reason: It cannot be determined exactly what the proportion of people without a German passport is in Germany. Businessmen, travelers or tourists who become suspects also fall into the category of “non-Germans.”

How are numbers classified politically?

CDU General Secretary Carsten Linnemann has already declared that “illegal migration” is becoming a “security risk.” Bavarian Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann (CSU) calls for consistent deportations for foreign criminals, while Saxony's Interior Minister Armin Schuster (CDU) once again calls for a “migration limit”. The AfD complains of “imported crime.” Traffic light politicians like Sebastian Hartmann (SPD) or Lamya Kaddor (Greens), on the other hand, call for coherent criminal prosecution, and more prevention and education. But FDP vice-president Wolfgang Kubicki also wants to discuss greater immigration control.

What does the research say?

Criminologists such as Tobias Singelnstein criticize that the statistics are “overinterpreted”: they are purely initial statistics, do not reflect real crime and are discussed with political prejudices. The BKA is also aware of these gaps and recently carried out dark field studies. 2022 result: Most of the 46,000 respondents, 14 percent, experienced Internet crimes in the previous year. However, only just under a fifth of these crimes were reported.