Oliver Malchow, federal chairman of Germany’s police union, says frustration is building among police, especially in the case of repeat offenders or suspects. Police officers complain that “the chronological connection between misconduct and punishment is no longer a given”.
“Our colleagues have been complaining for years that suspects have to wait too long for sentencing. And many cases are also dropped.” Malchow spoke to DW, recounting many of the experiences of crime victims.
Malchow says when theft occurs in Berlin, “the police come and take down the perpetrator’s personal details. And the thief just sits outside smoking a cigarette, because he knows, ‘nothing will happen to me'”.
The police association has called for an increase in police forces. To combat the situation, Malchow says that 20 000 law enforcement officers must be hired by the end of the next 5-year legislative period.
“It is on the scale of about 4 000 people per year.” On top of that some 40 percent of all lawyers will cycle out of the German labor force in 2030. In the former East German states, the figure is as high as 60 percent.
After the riots in Hamburg, the mood in Germany changed says Malchow. “People thought: ‘Police just can’t help us at all anymore.’ They founded vigilante groups, got gun licenses, and in many cases, elected parties that were not part of the party landscape before.”
The chronic personnel shortages have led to a crisis in Germany’s administrative and regional courts. Procedures take too long; judges complain of being overworked.
“The already very tense situation will intensify even further in the next ten to fifteen years because a huge retirement wave is looming before the German judiciary,” says Jens Gnisa, chairman of the German Association of Judges (DRB).
Gnisa has calculated that the judiciary is set to lose about 10 000 judges and prosecutors. “If political powers do not do something about this, the rule of law could erode,” says the lawyer. “It is particularly alarming that the courts have recently had to release defendants from pre-trial detention because criminal proceedings have lasted unacceptably long.”
Police have now have to deal increasingly with the recidivist criminals set free as a result of the court crisis.
But German Justice Minister Heiko Maas told the Saarbrücker Zeitung newspaper, that increasing police forces and improve crime investigation rates would be futile because there are not enough legal and court personnel to effectively try and prosecute criminals.
Maas is seemingly more concerned about social media platforms for the content that they publish which might put him and his fellow open-border enthusiasts in a negative light.
In May he cited “murder threats” and other examples of “hate speech” directed at politicians, targeted by insults and criticism as a result of open borders, adding to the already heavy workload of the justice system.
Maas also sought to refute objections that the legislation made law enforcement the responsibility of private companies like Facebook. “The point of the proposed legislation is that statements that violate the law must be deleted,” Maas said. “The worst danger to freedom of speech is a situation where threats go unpunished.”
Germany’s draconian censorship laws, the so-called “NetzDG”, are found neither the US nor any European Union country.
While the government is busy policing the Net, the crime rate among migrants in Germany spiked by more than 50 per cent last year, according to new figures.
The number of suspected crimes by migrants and illegal immigrants rose to 174 438 in 2016 — an increase of 52,7 per cent, according to the interior ministry.
Thomas de Maiziere, the interior minister, conceded that crimes by migrants had “increased disproportionately” due to the huge influx into Germany under Angela Merkel’s “open-door” refugee policy. Most of the crimes are committed by repeat offenders.
“The proportion of foreign suspects, and migrants in particular, is higher than the average for the general population.” But he quickly added that all migrants should not to blamed for the spike in criminality. “We cannot allow all refugees living among us to be put under general suspicion.”
Meanwhile, attacks on refugee shelters this year fell from a total of 1 031 in 2015 to 995 — the first drop recorded since data started being collected in 2014.