No link between national origin & crime, new German study finds

Migrants pray after the Iftar (breaking fast) meal at a refugee shelter in a former hotel in Berlin, Germany June 9, 2016. © Stefanie Loos
Over a million refugees came to Europe in 2015, and when mass sexual assaults left many nations in shock, migrants were the first to be blamed. However, a new study suggests there is no direct link between national origin and crime.

The Berlin-based organization Mediendienst Integration (Integration Media Service) compiled the study, led by the Münster criminologist Christian Walburg.

The research is largely based on data from Germany's Federal Criminal Police Office and claims to refute any connection between national origin and crime.

Since the past year, there has been no jump in the number of offenses per 100,000 people for the most frequent types of crimes, Münster told the Deutsche Welle media outlet.

Nevertheless, he added there had been two types of crime that had indeed shown significant increases: burglaries and pickpocketing.

These crimes weren’t committed by refugees who arrived in the country in 2015, researchers say, rather by those who have been living in the country for years.

"These are those who come from Eastern Europe and those who are from the Maghreb. But they do not belong to the group of people who arrived last year with the influx of refugees," Ulf Küch, the head of the criminal police in the central city of Braunschweig, said.

Adult refugees “with access to the labor market or good job prospects seldom register in the crime statistics," Walburg said.

Germany’s Federal Criminal Police data back up this view, examining crime figures from January to March this year. The number of crimes committed by migrants have actually fallen by 18 percent over the three months.

Who’s at risk of becoming a criminal, then?

In Germany, it's the people whose status is described as “tolerated” residency. They don’t have access to language courses, social services, and the labor market, which puts them at risk of “falling into criminality,” Walburg added.

Another ‘dark area’ covered by the Federal Criminal Police report is attacks against refugees, of which there were many during the first four months of 2016.

Compiling this kind of statistics is never easy, as it only distinguishes between German nationals and foreigners. “Non-Germans” constituted 27.6 percent of perpetrators (556,000 suspects). This figure was 34 percent more than in 2008, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that foreigners commit more crimes. From 2008 until 2015, the number of foreign residents in Germant has jumped by some 35 percent.