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Two German states to ban knives after a spike in stabbings

Two German states want to ban individuals from carrying knives in public places after a spike in the number of violent attacks.

Published: May 15, 2019, 8:54 am

    Bremen and Lower Saxony both have drafted a law that would outlaw carrying such weapons in areas such as shopping centres, train stations and public events, German daily Die Welt reported.

    The new legislation will include any area in which there is a large gathering of people, arguing that knife attacks in these areas are “particularly dangerous and affect the security of the population”.

    Earlier this week five German cities experienced stabbing attacks on the same day with several victims hospitalised while at least two migrants were declared as suspects. Last month a German woman’s magazine even published an article on how to treat stab wounds.

    Previously, Germans were allowed to carry fixed knives of up to 12 centimetres long but the new law will reduce that to six centimetres. For spring-loaded knives there will be a blanket ban, regardless of length.

    German media do not report on the ethnicity of knife-related violence. Crimes that are reported are often dismissed as “isolated incidents” that are unrelated to mass immigration.

    References to the nationalities of the perpetrators and victims — to avoid inflaming anti-immigration sentiments — are omitted.

    Official statistics on knife violence in Germany do not exist. But at the Conference of Interior Ministers [Innenministerkonferenz, IMK], issues were discussed between the interior ministers of Germany’s 16 federal states aand it was decided that federal crime statistics should include data about knife violence.

    However, German authorities must first “develop guidelines” for the data collection, and also “convert technical registration systems in the federal states”.

    In February 2019, Oliver Malchow, chairman of the German Police Union [Gewerkschaft der Polizei, GdP], called on the government to speed-up the collection of data on knife crimes. “We have heard it will not take place until 2022,” he said, “but we think that is too late.”

    The Federal Criminal Police Office (Bundeskriminalamt, BKA) said that “as soon as uniform reporting is ensured, the corresponding data can be incorporated into the nationwide statistics.” At present, however, “the BKA can make no statements as to whether attacks with knives in Germany are increasing.”

    Earlier, Die Welt had noted that detailed statistics would remain unavailable and that it could take “years” for the government to compile data for the annual Federal Police report.

    Police reported more than 4 100 knife-related crimes in 2018, compared to around 3 800 listed during 2017 — and only 400 in 2008. Overall, during the past ten years, knife-related crimes in Germany have increased by more than 900 percent — from one a day to more than ten a day.

    The country’s knife-crime epidemic has continued into 2019. During the first 45 days of 2019, police reported more than 500 knife crimes — an average of 11 a day.

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