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On June 18th and 19th, 2018, the President of the United States, Donald Trump tweeted that the crime rate in Germany has increased:

Has the crime rate in Germany increased by 10% since, say, 2015 which was the beginning of the so-called "European migrant crisis".

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – Sklivvz Jun 21 '18 at 21:03
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    Note that if you parse the statement fully, it cannot be answered with numbers from the official crime statistics as Trump is claiming that "officials do not want to report these crimes", and if they are not reported, they won't enter the statistics. – Tom Jun 23 '18 at 20:36
  • @Tom the original version of my question excluded that part of the source material, because it's too easy a backdoor, trying to make the statement untestable by design. – hiergiltdiestfu Jun 24 '18 at 1:32
  • @hiergiltdiestfu which might have been the purpose of that part, yes. However, it is worth looking at this point as there are crimes which are known to be under-reported (domestic violence, for example), so official statistics can often profit from looking at such factors as well. – Tom Jun 24 '18 at 4:54
  • An issue here is how to compare the statistics. If we compared 2014 (before migrant crisis) to 2015/2016 (during/after the migrant crisis) based on Common Guy's answer, we see it increase by about 5%. Comparing 2017 (after the migrant crisis, when new measures are likely in place) to 2015 (during the migrant crisis) doesn't make much sense to me. – SSight3 Jun 24 '18 at 15:20
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These statements are not supported by the official data.

According to official statistics of the German Federal Crime office the crimes in Germany 2017 are down by about 10% compared to 2016 and 2015 - 6.4 million to 5.7 million. (source)

Number of registered crimes in Germany Number of registered crimes in Germany

PS. In the statistic the overall number of crimes is given, including illegal entry into the country. For the statistics "cleaned" from illegal entries see the Semo's answer.

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    Removed a ton of comments, many were not nice. Off topic or nasty comments will be removed without further notice. – Sklivvz Jun 21 '18 at 21:06
  • @Sklivvz did you remove other comments in other answers, too? – Semo Jun 27 '18 at 9:33
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I am German and I have here a original statistic source, which I copied (screenshot) for easy access of yours. I hope the numbers are convincing. It's from the latest (May '18) "Polizeiliche Kriminalstatistik" of BKA (Federal Criminal Police Office).

Snapshot from V1 IMK Bericht.docx

The original and official source can be found here at BKA's Website

The image is from a table at page 10. From top to bottom translation are (don't beat me for correctness):

  • Crimes overall, without infractions of immigration law
  • solved cases
  • prevalence number
  • suspects
  • German suspects
  • foreign suspects
  • of these foreign suspects are immigrants ...

Table header:

  • AQ = Aufklärungsquote = Solved Qouta
  • Anzahl = Quantity
  • Veränderung = Change
  • Schlüssel = Key
  • Straftaten insgesamt ohne ausländerrechtliche Verstöße = Crimes overall, without infractions of immigration law
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    This answer is incomplete, because the question asked for the trend "since 2015." Other statistics imply that there was a sharp increase in numbers from 2015 to 2016 and to 2017. – Dubu Jun 20 '18 at 8:16
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    Overall +1 for the primary source. In the first row label “ausl.” is short for “ausländerrechtliche” like in the column header above; a better translation of both would be “total criminal cases without aliens laws violations”. “aliens laws” appears to be the official translation of “Ausländerrecht” according to Auswärtiges Amt (Foreign Affairs Office). – David Foerster Jun 20 '18 at 8:58
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    @Dubu Understood. But this is a question of sophisticated research. Therefore you must understand how numbers are build in statistics. In G. it's a infrraction to enter G. without a Visum as refugee. So in fact every refugee which came here infracted laws. Were these incidents counted into the numbers, too? Not clear. You'll find much more explanation perhaps here: bka.de/EN/CurrentInformation/PoliceCrimeStatistics/2016/… – Semo Jun 20 '18 at 10:25
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    @Dubu what statistics indicate this sharp increase? – iheanyi Jun 21 '18 at 19:30
  • So, what does this answer mean? Is Trump correct or not? – Mohammad Sakib Arifin Jun 23 '18 at 15:44
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Overall Crime numbers have indeed decreased, but there are categories of violent crimes that have increased during the last few years.

Murder rates have increased:

Number of murder victims

Y axis: number of murder victims

In 2017 there was a massive increase of cases of rape and sexual assault that were reported to the police (it should be noted though that the German criminal law regarding sexual assault was reformed at the end of 2016, which likely resulted in a higher rate in 2017 and makes comparisons less meaningful).

Rape and sexual assault

Y axis: cases per 100.000 capita


Sources:

  1. Statista. Anzahl der Mordopfer in Deutschland von 2000 bis 2017.

  2. Statista. Anzahl der polizeilich erfassten Fälle von Vergewaltigung und sexueller Nötigung pro 100.000 Einwohner in Deutschland von 2002 bis 2017.

Statista creates graphs from the statistics published in the "BKA PKS". It's a summary of all crime statistics by the German police itself.

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    Please be aware that there was a substantial change in laws about rape and sexual assault in mid 2016 accounting to at least some of the increase: 1) Before the change a sexual assault was only considered rape if victims tried to defend themselves physically. Now it is sufficient to state that you don't consent. 2) 'Minor' cases of sexual assault like groping where hard to prosecute before these changes, but are now offenses of their own by law. – tringel Jun 22 '18 at 11:57
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    @tringel Comments to that regard were removed. I added it to the answer and hope that OP leaves it in. Honestly though, even with this highly misleading statistic framed in the correct context, this is a very poor answer which cherry-picks more or less irrelevant statistics. I didn't flag as "not an answer", but I think it's not really worthy of this site. – tim Jun 22 '18 at 13:14
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    @Clearer Really? That is a pretty massive definitional change, I would have been amazed if it didn't show an effect like that, or even greater. – ttbek Jun 25 '18 at 4:48
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    Of course, even with these elevated figures, the murder rate in Germany is still only about 1/6th that of the United States. – Kyralessa Jun 25 '18 at 11:03
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    The discussion of German murder stats needs to clarify how these are affected by Niels Högel, a German nurse who appears to have murdered more than a hundred patients. Although these murders were committed between 1999 and 2005, most were only uncovered in 2017, so it's quite likely that the "increase" for 2017 actually comes from the reporting of murders that were committed many years earlier. (I'm not familiar enough with German crime stats to be absolutely sure of that, but I certainly hope the author of this answer is!) – Geoffrey Brent Jun 26 '18 at 0:32
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Yes, they are an accurate summary of violent crime statistics.

Violent crime was rising by 10% from 2014 to 2016.. To be clear, that was for 1.5-2.5 years ago (in Trump's defense, the article he is - probably - citing - does not make that obvious if you go by the blurb, since the study results were published in 2018).

From AP article (in Chicago Tribune)

The recent influx of mostly young, male migrants into Germany has led to an increase in violent crime in the country, according to a government-funded study published Wednesday.

The study used figures from the northern state of Lower Saxony to examine the impact of refugee arrivals on crime in 2015 and 2016, a period when the number of violent crimes reported increased by 10.4 percent.

From January 2018 article "Violent crime rises in Germany and is attributed to refugees" carried by Reuters:

BERLIN (Reuters) - Young male refugees in Germany got the blame on Wednesday for most of a two-year increase in violent crime, adding fuel to the country’s political debate over migrants.

Violent crime rose by about 10 percent in 2015 and 2016, a study showed. It attributed more than 90 percent of that to young male refugees.

the referenced study cited by both AP and Reuters is available in German (PDF warning). There is little reason to doubt these news outlets have reported the findings accurately. Please note that the articles characterized the study as "government-sponsored", whatever that means in Germany's context.


From the study done by Pfeiffer, p 91:

At the end of the evaluations, we would like to return to the starting point. After seven years of continuous decline in violent crime, both in Lower Saxony and in Germany as a whole there was a significant increase in the number of violent crimes registered by the police for the first time during the two years 2015 and 2016. Using Lower Saxony as an example, we have shown that the new development is largely based on the immigration of refugees. For Germany as a whole, Federal Minister of the Interior de Maizière also confirmed this on the basis of the PKS data for 2016.
Accompanying footnote: Press conference of 24 April 2017 on PKS 2016, but the Federal Minister of the Interior used the term "immigrant" here because many federal states subsumed the refugees under this generic term.

It should be noted that the author of the study is highly respected in most circles and at the same time heavily criticised for his work and alleged biases in other circles. In this case the actual number of 10% is given for Lower Saxony and for the whole country this source just extrapolates and gives "a similar trend" but no actual number.

The number 10% is found on p71 of that study:

Tabelle 13: Anzahl aufgeklärte Fälle der Gewaltkriminalität mit tatverdächtigen Deutschen, Flüchtlingen und sonstigen Nichtdeutschen (Quelle: PKS Niedersachsen 2012-2016) [Number of solved cases of violent crime with suspected Germans, refugees and other non-Germans (Source: PKS Niedersachsen 2012-2016)]

  • with German suspects: -0.9%
  • with refugee suspects: +241.7 %
  • with other non-German suspect: +10%
  • total of solved cases: +11.4%

This is from the chapter: 5 refugees in Lower Saxony as victims and perpetrators of violence –– 5.1 The increase in violent crime in Lower Saxony since 2014 - is there a connection with the strong influx since 2015?"

And for overall registered cases of violent crimes the 10% pop up again::

After a seven-year period of decline, the number of violent crimes registered by the police in Lower Saxony has risen significantly again for the first time (+10.4%) in 2015 and 2016. A PKS data analysis carried out by the LKA Niedersachsen shows that 92.1% of this increase is attributable to refugees. Parallel to the large wave of refugees that began in September 2015, the number of cases solved with suspected asylum seekers increased 3.4-fold between 2014 and 2016. This can partly be explained by the fact that the number of refugees registered in Lower Saxony has more than doubled since 2014 (+117.0%).
p81-2

This addition is just quoting the material from the study. It does not evaluate the study! Note also that "solved crimes" is not the same as committed crimes!

For even more perspective from the same study:

enter image description here, p7.


Comparing this with statistical data provided by the Federal Police of Germany (BKA) for the entire state gives the following numbers/diagrams:

enter image description here enter image description here enter image description here enter image description here enter image description here

But overall "crime" is summarized by the same institution as

Crime          | No of cases 2016 | No of cases 2015   | change in %     
total          | 6.372.526        | 6.330.649          | +0.7%      
crime 
excluding 
any alien 
law violations | 5.884.815        | 5.927.908          | -0,7%    
violent crimes | 193.542          | 181.386            | +6.7%     

One thing not done, but something that would have been useful, is comparing these crime rates, bot in their relational as well as absolute numbers with those statistics from the US!

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    @CJDennis - actually, in the context of immigration discussion, the usual implication is violent crime. I don't think anyone ever said "Damn, I wish there weren't so many immigrants defrauding banks and jaywalking" in a political immigration debate context. – user5341 Jun 20 '18 at 0:54
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    The claim in your Tribune and Reuters links reference a study in Lower Saxony, which is just one state of Germany. The linked study is published under an official federal government ministry. It shows a crime increase from 2014-2015 of 0.2% (in absolute numbers) and in 2015-2016 of 6.7%. There are no reported numbers for 2017. I don't know where you are getting these 10% numbers. Also note, the decrease in crime in the other answer is for 2017-2018; which is after the time frame of the linked study. – kingledion Jun 20 '18 at 1:00
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    "the study supports the claim as worded" - if you interpret "Crime in Germany is up 10%" as "Selected types of violent crime in Lower Saxony were up by around 10% two years ago, but have since fallen". Where is your "10% + 10%" coming from? Surely "2015 and 2016, a period when... increased by 10.4 percent" means one 10% increase, spread across two years, not two? Seems to be backed up by the figures in the study. – user568458 Jun 20 '18 at 5:58
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    -1 The numbers don't say what you claim they say (wrong time, wrong place). For context, here is an article with quotes from the author of the study. He repeats his claim that violent crimes increased three years ago especially because of inter-refugee violence inside refugee centers. Improvement of housing conditions since then has resulted in a decrease in that kind of crime. Crime in general has seen a decrease that it hasn't seen in the last 25 years. – tim Jun 20 '18 at 7:47
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    The report itself also explicitly warns against presenting the numbers without context. Most of the violent crime by refugees happened inside refugee camps with constrained space and clashes of different cultures. Age is a huge factor, and there are also very large differences between different groups of immigrants, with those fleeing from war like in Syria being much less represented in the crime statistics compared to their numbers. – Mad Scientist Jun 20 '18 at 13:04
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TL;DR: Available data is insufficient to give a definite answer, but likely pretty accurate.

As I see a lot of answers focus on the PKS ("Polizeiliche Kriminalstatistik", an official report from the German police). An excellent article on Spiegel online discusses why this report on it own is practically worthless (ironically in an article debunking Seehofer's claim that safety has been increasing. Note, Seehofer is the German secretary of the interior from the Bavarian party CSU, a person often enough compared to Trump).

To quote some relevant information:

  • The PKS includes a lot of crime which can not be considered violent E.g.

    Straftaten, die hinter Gittern begangen werden, werden für diese Gemeinden gezählt. Oft sind es vergleichsweise kleine Delikte wie das Aufbrechen eines Siegels an einem Fernseher.

Crime committed inside prison are counted towards the districts they are committed in. Often these are fairly small offences like breaking the seal on a television.

  • The PKS does not include various kinds of crime like terrorism

    Alleine im Zuständigkeitsbereich der Bundesanwaltschaft - die nur mit einem Teil der Terrorermittlungen befasst ist - erhöhte sich die Zahl von 68 eingeleiteten Extremismusverfahren in 2013 auf rund 1200 in 2017.

Just counting the cases the Federal Prosecutor's office - which are only responsible for a portion the investigations into terrorism - is responsible for, the number of cases being initiated has increased from 68 in 2013 to 1200 in 2017.

This may also be what trump is referring to when he wrote "that the officials do not want to report these numbers". Well, they are being reported, just not in the main report.

  • The PKS is basically just a report indicating which crimes the police have been working on

    In der Kriminologie, der Forschung über Verbrechen, ist man sich einig: Die Kriminalstatistik ist lediglich "ein Arbeitsnachweis der staatlichen Strafverfolgungsorgane"

In criminology, the science related to crime, the consensus is: The PKS is no more a "proof of work regarding the law enforcement agencies".

Das vergangene Jahr war - wenn man so will - das Jahr, in dem die PKS sich selbst entlarvte. Damals hatte die Polizei erstmals 293.000 mutmaßliche Taten von 174.000 Zuwanderern registriert, die kurz zuvor ins Land gekommen waren. Und trotz dieses Zuzugs stieg die Gesamtzahl aller Delikte in der PKS nur leicht. Wie konnte das sein? War die übrige Bevölkerung in 2016 so viel gesetzestreuer geworden, dass fast 300.000 zusätzliche Straftaten nicht zu einer entsprechenden Erhöhung der Gesamtzahl führen konnten?

The last year was - if you want to call it that - the year in which the PKS debunked itself. Last year the police registered 293k alleged criminal offences from 174k immigrants, that had recently entered the land. And even including these cases from immigrants the total number of crimes only increased slightly. How is this possible? Was the rest of the population suddenly a lot more law abiding, that even nearly 300k additional cases of crime didn't cause an increase in the total number?

So basically the number reported by the PKS depends more on the number of law enforcement employees than committed crimes. The percentile distribution of different kinds of crime within the statistic is probably a better indicator of how crime is evolving.

  • Surveys indicate a growth in crime

A report from the state office of criminal investigation in Lower Saxony states the following:

Die Gesamtzahl der Befragten, die angaben, Opfer irgendeiner Straftat geworden zu sein, steigt signifikant von 29,2 Prozent im Jahr 2014 auf 32,1 Prozent im Jahr 2016

The total number of respondents, which declared having been victim of a crime, rose significantly from 29.2% in 2014 to 32.1% in 2016

While this report only focused on lower Saxony it seems rather unlikely that crime rates fluctuations deviate much from the German average. An increase from 29.2% to 32.1% is roughly a ten percent increase.

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    Ok, quick now. Go look at the graphics from Spiegel.de in German and in English. Make a screenshot. – LangLangC Jun 20 '18 at 22:09
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    @LangLangC I linked the older article for a reason. While some of the information is reproduced in the newer article, the older article goes a lot more in depth explaining how to actually read the statistics. – Syren Baran Jun 21 '18 at 5:08
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    My tip was also motivated: one article seemingly just a translation, yet using a different graphic to illustrate the authoritative and unquestionably objective godlike official statistics. Thought that would fit nicely into your narrative here. – LangLangC Jun 21 '18 at 12:27
  • Better be quick, this thread is still hot… And keep in mind that statistics are created, trying to be objective,most of the time, but never can be, especially not in such social sciences like "crime" ;) (Alas it looks as if roughly 12000 visitors do not want to know that…) – LangLangC Jun 21 '18 at 21:16
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Just as a remark:
The "BKA PKS" statistics have to be evaluated with a lot of caution. Those numbers are not adjusted or filtered. They represent the cases known to the police, even those with no further investigation. New or altered laws are not taken account of. Execution orders ("Arbeitsanweisungen"), different interpretations of newer laws and emphasis on which and how to enforce different laws differ from state to state.

Furthermore, the police statistics uses different categories for crimes then the justice ministry.

Solved Cases in the "BKA PKS" translates to known cases which are now closed for the police. The case could be dismissed or someone was found to be charged and is now a case for the justice department. They still might be not guilty and the case might be reopened be the police.

One article on the problems with those statistics (german): https://meedia.de/2018/04/03/messerangst-in-mitteleuropa-oder-warum-die-kriminalstatistik-nur-dann-nuetzlich-ist-wenn-man-sie-versteht/

More details to the shortfalls of the "BKA PKS", the pitfalls of reading those numbers and how it is instrumentalized one way or an other. https://www.zeit.de/gesellschaft/zeitgeschehen/2017-12/sexualstrafrecht-sexismus-debatte-zahlen/seite-5 (the other pages of this article are also interesting in regards to sexual assault crimes)

As for the increase in rape and sexual assault crimes. One possible factor for the 2017 spike could be #metoo by increasing the known assaults to the police and so altering the statistics. But thats just a guess.

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    As much as I welcome this additional info, does it really answer the question? Please expand this and most of all include the most relevant parts from your links here as a quote (preferred: in translation). Also the Arbeitsanweisungen might be explained here: how do they effect the data? What are the pitfalls, how is this instrumentalized? – LangLangC Jun 20 '18 at 15:21
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    I couldn't add comments, but thought that this information may be relevant for the answer. I'll could try to extend my "answer" but i don't think i could gather and digest all the needet ressources for that. And i doubt i'm able to translate those articles, but i coul try with some summerized explenation. – why.n0t Jun 21 '18 at 10:38
  • You might add the quotes in the original language – someone might even translate them for you. But links may rot. Summaries are a start. Unreferenced assertions are a stopper. – LangLangC Jun 21 '18 at 12:31
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Yes for violent crime, no for non-violent crime.

I needed to pick something simple but meaningful to focus on. Here are the yearly case counts (2014-2017) from www.bka.de for police reportings within Germany.

resident population:   80767463, 81197537, 82175684, 82521653
murders/manslaughters:     2162,     2103,     2394,     2362
bike thefts:             339760,   335174,   332486,   300006

The BKA publishes these case counts (just change the year in the link and use Tabelle 01) and even victim counts (Tabelle 91). For example (and to reconcile with @QVarg's answer though we already reach the same conclusion), in 2017 there were 785 murder cases in which 405 of 1030 people were truly killed. There were additionally 1594 manslaughter cases in which 326 of 1858 people were truly killed, but notice that I exclude the 17 cases of "euthenasia at the request of the victim" (though this too would not effect my conclusion).

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    "I needed to pick something simple but meaningful to focus on." You mean you cherry-picked? – F1Krazy Jun 21 '18 at 10:28
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    No, I have nothing to gain with any conclusion I make and actually chose them before getting the data. If you're going to criticize, at least pick the stats that you would focus on. – bobuhito Jun 21 '18 at 10:44
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    Welcome to Skeptics! Please provide some references to support your claims. – Oddthinking Jun 21 '18 at 13:00
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    I wrote "www.bka.de", which is the website of Germany's federal criminal police office. It's in the yearly reports released there in German, but you can also find English summaries (e.g., 300006 is directly in bmi.bund.de/SharedDocs/downloads/EN/publikationen/2018/…). – bobuhito Jun 21 '18 at 15:23
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    www.bka.de is a site. Are the statistics that you posted from the front page? Or from a particular page in the site? While English is obviously easier for us, it is all right to link to a foreign language site. If these are from multiple pages, please provide links for each page. – Brythan Jun 21 '18 at 20:11

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