No Time for Crime? German Police Too Busy Dealing With Refugees

© AP Photo / Matthias SchraderGerman federal police officers check refugees who arrived without documents at the main station in Rosenheim, Germany, Tuesday, July 28, 2015.
German federal police officers check refugees who arrived without documents at the main station in Rosenheim, Germany, Tuesday, July 28, 2015. - Sputnik International
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Police in Lower Saxony are finding it hard to cope with the increased burden caused by the migrant crisis, the German newspaper Neue Osnabrucker Zeitung reported.

Refugees walk to a chartered train at the railway station of Passau, Germany Tuesday Jan. 5, 2016 - Sputnik International
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Police in the northwest German state of Lower Saxony have reorganized their priorities due to the demands of the migrant and refugee crisis, Neue Osnabrucker Zeitung (NOZ) reported on Thursday.

"The Lower Saxony police will scale back their efforts in pursuit of minor offenses. The state police committee and police authorities have agreed on this, given the burden of the refugee crisis," NOZ reported, citing an internal police paper.

The guidelines were issued to the police on November 11, "in the context of the immigration of refugees." The document was marked "for official use only."

It refers to a "temporary deferment and reduction of measures in non-priority areas of responsibility," and an "optimization in determining the intensity and scope of non-priority areas of crime," and order the force to reduce its investigations into minor offenses.

As a result of the reprioritization, the police are ordered to more quickly close cases such as fare evasion, petty theft or criminal damage, if the chance of catching the perpetrator is low.

Instead, police resources are being put into investigating offenses that "especially worry" the population, such as burglaries or politically motivated crime. The police have also been ordered to show more police presence. 

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Lower Saxony police chief Uwe Binias confirmed the new guidelines, but sought to give assurance about their effect on safety. He told NOZ that each crime is being recorded just as before, and that the new measures are aimed at reducing "the background expenditure" to free up more resources for other tasks.

"Citizens won't notice the difference. Nobody should worry that we are not going to come to the scene of an accident," Binias said.

'Further strain because of the refugee crisis. Internal paper: police want to reduce efforts on petty crime,' NOZ reported.

​The reorganization was criticized in the state parliament by Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Party (CDU). The party is the main opposition to the Social Democratic party (SPD) and Green coalition in the Lower Saxony Landtag, which represents the citizens of Germany's fourth most populous federal state.

"Citizens are wondering whether the prosecution of serious crimes is really assured under the SPD and Greens, if supposedly minor offenses are not being pursued with the necessary determination anymore," the party's home affairs spokeswomen Angelika Jahns said.

"The solution for a functioning internal security in Lower Saxony is more police," she added.

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