'Police violence in Germany serious, underreported problem'

Experts say many victims do not trust Germany’s justice system, government not doing enough to address police violence.

'Police violence in Germany serious, underreported problem'

Police brutality has been a serious problem in Germany, but many cases go unreported or are not properly investigated or punished, according to experts.

Official statistics, published annually by the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA), provide only limited information. Currently, it is estimated that there are 1,500 to 2,000 cases of police violence in the country.

However, the number of unreported cases is likely to be much higher and could be even five times more than the official records, according to recent research carried out by independent institutions.

A former police officer and security expert, Stefan Schubert, told Anadolu Agency that many victims face difficulty reporting such incidents, or do not trust the authorities.

“The number of unreported cases is high in every area of crime. Fewer and fewer cases are being reported, because citizens have also noticed that reporting them is of little use, that the public prosecutor's offices do little work, are overburdened and that they are not summoned as witnesses at all,” he said.

Often the victim is in a situation that makes it almost impossible to file charges against police officers later, according to the expert.

“And in the case of police violence, the situation is aggravated by the fact that a citizen usually finds himself in a situation where a whole group of police officers is involved – three, four, five policemen,” he said.

“And then the victim is alone, or with a companion. And that is, of course, when it comes to testimony against testimony, it is always a very bad starting position. And I think that discourages many people from reporting these things,” he added.

Racial violence

Migrants, refugees, and Black people are often disproportionately affected by police brutality, according to the experts.

The co-founder of the Campaign for Victims of Racist Police Violence (KOP), Biplab Basu, who also works at the counseling center ReachOut in Berlin, told Anadolu Agency that German prosecutors often side with police when victims report police brutality. “This attitude has been a discouraging factor for many people.”

ReachOut counsels victims of right-wing, racist, and anti-Semitic violence, and victims of racial profiling and racist police brutality.

“Very few of the migrants and Black community members have faith in the police and justice … that anything could be done or any positive outcome would be there if they register cases against the police,” he said, adding that "structural racism" is very rampant within the police department and within the criminal justice system.

He also criticized the German government for not taking any serious measures to address the problem of police brutality in the country.

“The government is not doing enough. The denial of police violence is one factor why people have lost faith in the justice system … criminal justice system,” he said.​​​​​​​