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Berlin: Number of Subsidy Fraud and Sexual Abuse Cases Increases

In 2020, a year dominated by Corona and lockdowns, some kinds of crime increased, while others dropped down to their lowest levels in years. Berlin’s Interior Senator Andreas Geisel and Police Chief Barbara Slowik just released the numbers.

Berlin, March 26th, 2021 (The Berlin Spectator) — Last year was very different compared to pre-Corona times. The authorities, including the Berlin Police Department, faced new challenges. So did criminals, according to the city state’s Interior Senator Andreas Geisel. He and Police Chief Barbara Slowik introduced the new crime statistics, for 2020, on Friday. Geisel said there had hardly been any tourists in the city and not that many people had used public transport. These aspects had had ramifications for criminals. But they had reacted by committing new kinds of crime and by concentrating on ‘conventional’ crimes they could still commit during those lockdowns.

Crime Clearance Rate Rose

Fore instance, the number of burglaries in apartments dropped by more than 10 percent to 5,555 cases, and housebreakings into one-family homes and villas decreased by more than 13 percent to 1,515 cases. One of the reasons is that many Berliners worked from home. They did not give burglars the opportunity to break into their homes. But there were more burglaries in basements and attics.

The overall number of crimes had dropped by 1.8 percent to the lowest level since Germany’s reunification in 1990, Senator Geisel said. In 2020, there had been 13,739 crimes per 100,000 inhabitants. Berlin’s crime clearance rate is still rather low, even though it showed the highest value in ten years, namely 46.1 percent.

More Subsidy Fraud Cases

A new form of crime the Police Department was confronted with was subsidy fraud. In 2020, the city state of Berlin offered a lot of financial aid to companies of all sizes that got into difficult situations because of the Corona pandemic. Those Corona aid packages had a volume of about 2 billion Euro (2.36 billion U.S. Dollars or 1.71 billion Pounds Sterling). The 3,000 fraud cases that were identified accounted for a damage of 41 million Euro (48.3 million Dollars or 35.1 million Pounds). Geisel said making sure those in need would receive Corona aid funds quickly had meant not to delay payments and have a minimum level of bureaucracy. At the same time, this had opened possibilities to criminals.

What sex offenses are concerned, an increase was registered in regard to sexual assaults, while the number of rapes decreased slightly. Another alarming development is the increase of cases of sexual abuse of wards. Possession of child pornography is on the rise too. Police Chief Barbara Slowik stated, the prevention of sexual offenses was important. Prevention programs at schools and other establishments for children and adolescents had not been operational much last year, because of the lockdowns.

More Attacks Against Officers

What the possession of child pornography was concerned, Barabara Slowik said the number had risen because an American NGO had passed on many cases it had found to the Federal Criminal Police Office in Germany. That way, more cases could be solved by the Police Department, she stated.

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Another alarming development both Senator Geisel and Police Chief Slowik mentioned is an increase of attacks against police officers, fire fighters and medics. In 2020 alone, 7,505 of them became victims of crimes. Those included insults and threats, but also physical attacks. Geisel called this development “unbearable and unacceptable”. He said many attacks against police officers had taken place during the many protests that had been staged by Corona deniers. According to him, the police in Berlin are used to being attacked by hooded vandals, but not by parents who were taking part in protests with their children, as they had in those cases.

What politically motivated crime is concerned, the number of cases increased in 2020. This applies to crimes committed by both right-wing and left-wing radicals, and includes antisemitic crimes. Senator Geisel said, the latter should always be reported to the police. He believes there is a high number of unreported cases.