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Numerous complaints from citizens: Bonn’s Public Order Office is overstretched during night duty

Numerous complaints from citizens : Bonn’s Public Order Office is overstretched during night duty

The Bonn Public Order Office is overstretched. At the same time, the police union is demanding that officers no longer be called out to disturbances of the peace. Citizens are annoyed.

The city’s public order service cannot be reached at night and takes too long when called. Bonn residents repeatedly criticise those overseeing the Public Order Office, which is supposed to mediate breaches of the peace, for example, during evening hours. At the same time, the German Police Union (DPolG) is demanding that police officers no longer be called out to noise disturbances.

They currently do this frequently because the public order services are overstretched. This has also been confirmed by the city of Bonn. The situation should improve from next spring. Head of department Carsten Sperling has announced that the night time patrol duty will be restructured and personnel increased.

Frank Hoffmann is annoyed. He lives on Poppelsdorfer Allee and especially at weekends, the streets do not quieten down. “Often not a night goes by during which young people aren’t settling down on the benches between 10pm and 2.30 am and cranking up loud music,” he explains.

If you reach someone at the Public Order Office after several attempts, you hear that it will “take a long time.” “By the time someone appears, another noise-filled hour can have passed.”

The city of Bonn is aware of this problem. How quickly employees arrive depends on how far away they currently are and how many incidents have already taken place. “We can’t give exact times, it can take from ten minutes to an hour or more,” explains Carsten Sperling.

Reason for poor availability

There is also an understandable reason for the poor availability: from Monday to Thursday from 6pm and on Sundays from 10am to 1am, incoming calls are diverted to the patrol service’s mobile phone. “Employees can only use the phone if the situation allows.”

This has consequences for the police. They fill in when the Public Order Office is unavailable or is not on duty at night. “There is a clear call for more police, but it would be a start if the police could limit themselves to their original legal tasks,” says Andreas Gut, chairman of DPolG Bonn.

By law, the district Public Order Offices are responsible for breaches of the peace, but in many places there are arrangements with the police. “To simply hand tasks over to the police is not the answer, even if this has long been the practice in Bonn,” says Gut.

Public order service will soon be strengthened at night

The city public order service will be strengthened and reorganised in the evenings from next spring. The core hours will be extended at the weekends and on public holidays from 1am to 2am. In addition, employees will remain in the city-owned control centre during these hours so that the patrol service no longer has to coordinate operations from their mobile phones.

A third car patrol will be added to the current two, which always comprise two people. Two additional foot patrols will be used as required. Ultimately, this is a compromise and a question of money. “The city can’t take over completely without further measures, as then significantly more personnel would be required,” says Sperling.

It remains to be seen in practice whether the situation will then noticeably improve. “Noise complaints have risen sharply in recent years. The trend is for the police to be called to such disputes more often,” says Pfau.

He appeals for people to try and solve problems with breaches of the peace within their neighbourhood. “A conversation often helps.” Nevertheless, he is also seeing the mood becoming more aggressive. “In such cases and where there are large groups, the police are, of course, the correct contact. Then we’ll support the Public Order Office.”

Until 1am, citizens should first contact the Public Order Service on 0228/773333. If officials are not available or do not arrive in time, the police will take action. Their number is 0228/150.

(Original text: Nicolas Ottersbach. Translation: kc)