Subjective security in Germany becomes separate from crime

The latest Edition of the magazine Polizei Newsletter, provides information about a survey carried out by the German Institute Of Opinion Polls which show the varying trends of subjective security and crime. Crime-related data continues to be stable—as we pointed out in the last article —, and violent theft, assaults in public areas and the use of weapons have even gone down recently (in this last case, it has been going down since 2003). Only burglaries and offences related to immigration laws have risen significantly (especially in the last case, 157% over the last year).

polizei_bremen_2010-01On the other hand, two of every three Germans interviewed said that security had got worse over the last three years. If we focus on the over-55 age group, the figure is as high as three quarters (75%) of those interviewed, who see a worsening of security in their environment. As far as women are concerned, the trend is a little more negative (70% say it has got worse, compared to 67% of men). Young people between 18 and 24 are more divided, but are more optimistic than the average (only 51% feel the situation is worse), as are adults between 25 and 34 (58% feel it has got worse). The most optimistic group corresponds to students (only 48% feel the situation is getting worse). Only a quarter of those interviewed believe that police statistics related to crime are real.

In terms of länder (the territorial format equivalent to Spanish autonomies), there is no connection between crime and subjective security. Therefore, while the land with least crime is Baden-Württemberg (which bettered Bavaria in 2015), 67% of those interviewed feel there is a rise in insecurity, while in the city-state of Hamburg, with a high crime rate (a rate per thousand inhabitants which doubles that of Baden-Württemberg), only 59% feel pessimistic about the development of security over recent years.

In this context, the fight against insecurity (low or negative subjective security) is no longer related to the fight against crime. Insecurity has become part of the political dynamic, as it can gain support, and encourage populist views which can lead to more radical measures (often restricting rights) by stimulating a feeling of insecurity, without reducing the risk of crime. According to the report, organisations defending human rights have not given enough thought to such policies which could endanger citizens’ rights.

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