As a phenomenon recorded in Germany

The attack on two schoolchildren in Illerkirchberg, Baden-Württemberg, could give new impetus to the debate about knife attacks in Germany. A 27-year-old asylum seeker from Eritrea is suspected of a crime that left one of the attackers dead.

Has the number of knife attacks in Germany changed?

This cannot be read from the official data of the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA). For a long time, the service did not provide any information about knives as a crime in the police crime statistics (PCS). It is therefore not possible to compare the last few years across Germany on the basis of these data.

In 2021, this type of violence was publicly reported for the first time – and so far the only time. According to this, a knife was used in 6.6 per cent of crimes or used as a threat.

According to the Federal Bureau of Criminal Investigation, knife attacks are any act in which “an attack with a knife is directly threatened or carried out against a person.” So it is not enough for the suspect to simply carry a knife with him – for example, hidden in his jacket pocket.

The BKA has been recording knife attacks since the beginning of 2020. However, the data were and are being analyzed at the same time to identify possible weaknesses in the study. According to the federal government’s response to a small request from the Bundestag in September.

Are there other sources?

Yes, for example, the statistics of the Federal Police responsible for security at train stations and airports. Based on this, the number of assault crimes involving knives in this sovereign territory from 2021 second half to 2022 more than doubled in the first half of the year, from 46 to 98. Crimes against life, such as manslaughter, murder or murder, including attempted murder, are halved from 6 to 3.

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However, compared to 2020 so far, it should be borne in mind that the coronavirus measures have affected mobility and therefore the number of people in public spaces.

What is the situation in Baden-Württemberg?

Violent knife crime has fallen in 2021 compared to last year. With about 1,500 cases, it fell to a five-year low in the southwest. A knife was used in about one in ten violent crimes. Last year, 24 people did not survive a knife attack.

According to the 2021 According to the Baden-Württemberg security report, 331 out of 1,562 suspects in violent knife crimes were asylum seekers or refugees – 19.3 percent. less compared to the first months of 2020 In the Corona year. The rest were Germans (698 suspects) and others. non-Germans (533).

In September, the green-black state government cleared the way for cities and communities to create gun-free zones. This is to further curb gun crime, particularly involving knives. Such zones should be able to be installed in crime hotspots or places where large crowds congregate.

What role do refugees play in knife attacks across the country?

This cannot be read from police crime statistics (PCS). The BKA says that statements about suspects are not possible because, for example, unarmed suspects could be involved in a joint attack with a knife. In such cases, statistics have so far prevented us from saying which suspect or suspects the knife may be attributed to. According to the federal government, a federal and state project team is currently discussing the change to “further improve the informational value of the PCS in relation to the use of crime funds”.

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Federal police statistics also do not provide any information on whether the suspect or suspects are fugitives. Although citizenship is recorded, other characteristics such as residential status are not included. As a result, of the 223 suspects that the federal police arrested in 2022 recorded using a knife in the first half of the year, 80 were German, 82 non-German and 61 of unspecified nationality.

Do crime statistics have their pitfalls?

Yes, for a few things. Initially, only police information about suspects is recorded. It is unclear whether the court will actually convict them later for being criminals.

In addition, the term “non-German suspects” is often limited to refugees. BKA counts all foreign passport holders, stateless persons and persons…

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