Crime statistics 2023 in Bonn Bonn police chief: foreign nationals "over-represented" in criminal offences

Bonn · When it comes to crime, Bonn is a safer place to live than some other parts of North Rhine-Westphalia. But the police are concerned about an increase in knife crime. They hope more police presence and camera towers will help.

 In 2023, Bonn police carried out frequent identity checks at Bonn's main railway station to search for weapons and drugs.

In 2023, Bonn police carried out frequent identity checks at Bonn's main railway station to search for weapons and drugs.

Foto: Nicolas Ottersbach

Compared to the rest of the country, Bonn is still a relatively safe place to live - at least according to police chief Frank Hoever and Klaus Zimmermann, head of the criminal investigation department. Presenting the crime statistics, they announced an overall slight decrease (-0.6%) in crime. In particular, the number of thefts fell. However, there are negative outliers. The authority is particularly concerned about the increase in violent crime, with a significant rise in offences involving knives. Hoever also reported that, as in the country as a whole, the number of foreign nationals involved in crime was "over-represented". He wants to counter this with more controls, presence, prevention and camera towers. He praised his investigators: more than every second case (54.9%) is being solved - the highest figure for decades.

Total offences: Last year, 44,189 offences were recorded in the area covered by the Bonn police headquarters, which includes Bonn and the Rhein-Sieg district on the left bank of the Rhine, as well as the towns of Bad Honnef and Königswinter. The lowest number recorded was 35,264 in 2019, with only a slight increase during the pandemic.

Violent crime: 2349 cases were recorded, an increase of almost 40 per cent. One of the reasons, says Hoever, is that "people are in permanent crisis mode". Bonn is well above the federal average (+7 per cent), mainly due to the criminal charges brought against child psychiatrist Michael Winterhoff (the GA reported). These alone added more than 600 cases to the assault statistics. Adjusted for this, the figure is roughly in line with the national trend.

There were 5630 (+21.2 per cent) assaults, 1847 of these (+54.8 per cent) were serious and dangerous, 3624 (+9.4 per cent) were deliberate and minor. Threats increased by 11.3 per cent to 1330 cases. Worrying, according to Hoever and Zimmer, is the number of cases in which emergency services such as the police and fire brigade were obstructed or attacked: 364 cases, 69 more than in 2022.

Knife attacks: The number of knife attacks is increasing: there were 88 cases recorded, 27 more than in 2022. "Aggression and the willingness to use violence are clearly on the increase," says Zimmermann. The police are trying to do something about it. For example, there have been several checks at Bonn's main railway station. However, it is not possible to set up a weapons prohibition zone similar to those in Cologne and Düsseldorf. "We have looked into it, but the conditions are not right," explains Hoever. He wants to fully exploit the legal framework. That's why they're still relying on strategic searches and video surveillance with camera towers. The latter resumed on Friday in Hofgarten, Poppelsdorfer Allee and Maximilianstraße.

Crimes committed by foreign nationals: NRW Interior Minister Herbert Reul said last week that foreign nationals are more often involved in crime than German nationals. This trend also applies to Bonn, as Hoever explained. According to census data, the proportion of non-Germans living in Bonn is around 16 per cent, but they are involved in around 36 per cent of crimes. "In the case of pickpocketing, the proportion is as high as 90 percent. The rate for shoplifting is around 50 per cent, and 55 per cent for burglary. Foreign nationals are suspects in 39 per cent of assaults and 32 per cent of sexual offences. In terms of nationality, people from Syria, Turkey and Romania were the most common offenders. However, Hoever stressed that there are other factors at play, such as gender, education level and social environment.

Young offenders: About a fifth of all crimes are committed by people under the age of 21, reported Klaus Zimmermann. This proportion has hardly changed in recent years. In 2023, there were 16,385 suspects, including 1442 juveniles and 535 children. Crimes against residence permits were not included in the figures.

Robbery: Of the 313 suspects arrested last year, 138 were under 21 and 119 of those were male. "This is typical," says Hoever. The crimes often take place on roads and paths and are often drug-related. Knives are also frequently used: A blade was used 46 times compared with 34 times in 2022.

Sexual offences: Sexual offences have remained at a similarly high level since 2021, with 764 cases registered last year. "This is probably also due to the fact that, fortunately, the willingness to report crimes has increased," says Hoever. The figures for child pornography have been declining since 2021 but are still significantly higher than in previous years. The criminologists attribute this, among other things, to the abuse complexes in Bergisch Gladbach and Lügde. Ongoing investigations continue to uncover new cases, and there are also reports from abroad. In 2023, 197 cases were registered, of which 161 were solved.

Home burglaries: The number of offences has been falling steadily for ten years, with 890 in 2023. "About half of the burglaries fail. If the perpetrators notice there is any resistance, they leave," says Hoever. That's why advisory services are so important. "But we also rely on citizens." It often turns out later that someone saw something suspicious but did not call 110. But the police also attribute the decrease to their traffic checks, which increase the pressure on the perpetrators. And sometimes they even manage to solve a series of crimes: A stop in Duisdorf led to a man whose DNA was found at 47 crime scenes. Thefts from cellars are also becoming less common: there were 426 cases, a drop of 44.7 per cent.

Fraud: Despite much publicity, people are still being swindled out of their savings by a wide variety of scams, although the numbers are falling (6224 cases, down 8.1 per cent). These include phishing, shock calls and sympathy scams. "Most cases are attempts," explains Zimmermann. But fraudsters managed to get away with a total of 54 scams, resulting in losses of around 1.8 million euros last year.

Original text: Nicolas Ottersbach

Translation: Jean Lennox

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