Asylum Seekers and Migrant Criminality in Germany


Right now, the number of refugees in Germany seems to be getting quite some international attention. A lot of commentators are trying to frame the current situation in a context of crime, often with an islamophobic bias. The subreddit /r/European is just on example, which nicely demonstrates the biased use of unverified sources, „anecdotal evidence“ and statistical cherrypicking.

Given the prevalence of the topic in Germany, there’s quite a bit of solid material available. Reflecting the self-centered German discussion, most of it is in German. Unfortunately, very little has been translated to English.

This post links to some relevant German language materiel, providing a translation of especially relevant passages. There will also be a link list with some German language sites on the topic, and some more general English language sources

No, I don’t give a fuck about your anecdotal evidence

Not in general, because anecdotes proof nothing. But they are great for inciting resentment, so I guess that’s why for example rape stories are so widely shared. This works so great, that people even make them up when „needed“. Hoaxmap alone lists 48 fake rape stories (as of February, mostly Germany). So if that’s all you base your opinion on, you might want to rethink it.

Some quick clarifications

Yes, most asylum seekers are indeed from Syria

Up until first half of 2015 asylum seekers from the balcans made up a large part of new applicants, but this has changed by now. (BAMF)


Total numbers 2015 for largest nationalities (BAMF):

Yes, most Syrian asylum seekers have papers

There are no statistics on how many asylum seekers have papers. For asylum seekers from Syria, BAMF gives an estimate of 80% (Mediendienst Integration). Please keep in mind, that many countries don’t require their residents to carry identity cards. Also, papers are no requirement for refugees according to the Geneva protocoll (UNHCR).

As for forgeries: At random sample examinations, 8% of Syrian passports turned out to be forgeries. This number is similar to IDs from Iraq or Eritrea. (Welt)

Yes, currently most refugees are women or children

UNHCR numbers for people arriving via the Mediterranean:


For Germany, the numbers according to BAMF are 49.3% men, 19.8% women and 30.9% children.


Foreign residents are no more criminal than Germans

There are quite a few sources on this, all coming to the above conclusion.

One of the big falacities when discussing crime statistics is not bothering to compare similar groups. There quite a few aspects correlating strongly with crime numbers (like age, gender, but also urbanity of residence, social standing or life perspective). Thus there will be a bias when comparing with a demographic that’s for example younger and more male. (An introduction to the topic with some quick numbers can be found at Uni Siegen, a more exhaustive look at Uni Konstanz.)


BKA: „Crime in Context of Imigration“

There’s also the recent study „Kriminalität im Kontext von Zuwanderung“ (Crime in Context of Imigration) of the federal criminal police. It’s classified as „confidential“ („nur für den Dienstgebrauch“), but apparently available to the papers (Spiegel, Zeit). So far it hasn’t become public in its entirety.

„In total, the currently available trend indicators show that refugees are as much or as little delinquent as comparable groups of the indigenious population.“ (Interior minister on the study)

Of reported crimes, sexual offences are less than 1% and attacks on life are 0.1%. People from Syria and Iraq are underrepresented. Crime numbers with imigrant perpetrators increased noticeable less than total imigrant numbers (red: imigrants, green: crimes).


Polizei Braunschweig: SoKo Asyl

More of a random sample are numbers from Braunschweig police (n-tv). Braunschweig police has a special task group (SoKo Asyl) that handles all crimes related to people living at the Landesaufnahmestelle (kind of „state refugee camp“, in most cases the first residence until asylum applicants are distributed to communal locations). „The numbers show that of the 40.000 people that passed through the Landesaufnahmestelle, about 150 were criminals. Less than 0.4 percent. The share is not larger than among Germans.“