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Wake-up call for integration policy

The crime statistics 2023 show the need for integration policy action

At the beginning of April, the Federal Minister of the Interior presented the Police Crime Statistics (PCS) 2023. According to these statistics, the number of crimes in Germany has risen by 5.5 per cent since 2022. The Federal Criminal Office (FCPO) believes that one reason for the increase is the high immigration figures. The PCS suggests that there may be a connection between criminal tendencies and a lack of integration. What contribution could integration policy make to crime reduction?

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The debate about the reasons for the rise in criminal offences in Germany since 2022 is dominated by accusations, suspicions and defensive discourse. However, the criminal sciences have long pointed to a possible connection between criminal tendencies and a lack of integration. An effective fight against crime is therefore closely linked to a better integration policy.


Statistics show a higher number of non-German suspects

In addition to the finding of a general increase in criminal offenses, the PCS 2023 show that 41 per cent of suspects were not German nationals. Even after deducting immigration law violations, the increase in non-German suspects since 2022 is 13.5 per cent. The comparative figure for German suspects is one per cent. Around 78 per cent of non-German and 74 per cent of German suspects were male. Half of the suspects were German nationals aged 21 and over with and without a history of migration. However, the statistics show a higher number of non-German suspects in the 21 to 29 age group. In the case of violent crimes, 14.5 per cent increase in foreign suspects was recorded in the previous year (compared to 2.2 per cent for German suspects).


Increasing skepticism towards immigrants

These findings come at a time of increasing skepticism towards immigrants. According to a recent study by Bertelsmann Stiftung, negative attitudes have increased since 2019 to a similar extent as after the refugee crisis in 2015. The PCS could furtherreinforce this rejection. However, the spread of general suspicion towards immigrants should be counteracted. in the crime statistics, the term "non-German suspects" includes asylum seekers, quota refugees, tolerated persons and persons without a residence permit. The results therefore only provide information about the criminality of a subgroup of immigrants who do not have German citizenship or are stateless. Criminological findings from 2020 also indicate a decline in crime among foreign nationals who have been living in Germany for a longer time. Nevertheless, the increase in foreign suspects raises the question of why young foreign men in particular are increasingly committing crimes in Germany and what can be done about it.


Causes of the rise in crime

In the debate, the demographic argument is often put forward as a cause of the rise in crime. It has been scientifically proven that young men are on average more prone to violence than older men and women. Consequently, a high level of immigration of young men increases crime. To explain the increased delinquency of refugees, the FCPO cites a variety of risk factors such as economic insecurity and experience of violence. The question of origin and the role of culture-related violence is also part of the debate. However, it is often characterized by blame and trivialization. On the one hand, there are sweeping and discriminatory claims that foreigners are per se criminal because of their origin. On the other hand, a connection between immigration and a tendency to commit crime is categorically rejected and it is argued that immigrants are reported to the police more quickly and are more likely to live in precarious socio-economic circumstances.


Lack of participation, recognition and prospects

In contrast, criminologists point to "acculturation problems" that promote violence and crime, difficulties in adopting the values of the host country and developing a sense of belonging among young foreigners. According to the Munsterian criminologist Christian Walburg, a lack of participation, recognition and prospects would also lead to a low level of commitment among young men to society. These findings illustrate that action-oriented integration policy can make an important contribution to crime reduction.


Integration measures can promote integration and reduce violence

Germany is dependent on skilled foreign workers. However, the increase in foreign suspects underlines the need to review the change of course in integration policy that the federal government undertook in the coalition agreement. The focus on access to language, education and the labor market initiated in 2021 is not enough. As regards violence prevention, the formulation of expectations, values education, social integration, anti-violence training and the strengthening of school social work are important. Measures to involve young people in community activities such as sport, voluntary work and a social year can also promote integration and reduce violence. In addition, integration offers for parents should be improved so that they can contribute to the integration of their children. The results of the 2023 crime statistics should be seen as a wake-up call to emphasize not only support, but also demands in integration policy.

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Natalie Klauser

Natalie Klauser

Demographic change and integration policy +49 30 26996-3746


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