The Integration Puzzle What a Million Refugees Mean for Everyday Life
Part 3: Are Refugees More Violent?
Christian Pfeifer, 71, is a criminologist.
Is crime in Germany on the rise, Mr. Pfeiffer?
For months, fear has been spreading that the crime rate in Germany may soon rise. People feel like their security is under threat due to the many foreigners arriving en masse. What the far-right regards as an absolute truth, Christian Pfeiffer, former director of the Criminological Research Institute of Lower Saxony, calls "propaganda." He cites data from Germany's Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) gathered between January and September last year. It shows that while the absolute number of crimes has risen, the crime rate grew much slower in relation to the high number of immigrants.
Back in the 1990s, when civil war in Yugoslavia drove hundreds of thousands of refugees to Germany, Pfeiffer examined the effect that an influx of mostly Muslim immigrants had on the crime rate. What he discovered was that immigrants tend to commit fewer crimes than the rest of the population. "Those who had a chance of being granted asylum did everything to avoid putting their status in jeopardy. This, in turn, led to greater obedience to our laws," Pfeiffer says.
The criminologist expects similar restraint from today's Syrian refugees, who unlike the North African suspects in Cologne on New Year's Eve, have a legitimate chance of remaining in Germany for the long term. The biggest difference between the Syrians and the Yugoslav refugees, he says, is that back in the 1990s, people took their whole family with them when they fled. The refugees from Syria include at least 400,000 young, single men -- a demographic with the highest propensity for crime in any country or society.
"Whether we will continue to live safely in the future depends on how we teach our rules to these often angry and frustrated youths, who come from very macho cultures. They need to learn that women are not to be preyed upon, you don't hit children and you don't respond to being disrespected with violence," Pfeiffer says.
Hiring more police officers or tightening laws won't help and making it easier to deport immigrants who commit crimes is also just a diversionary tactic, he argues. The only solution, Pfeiffer says, is exert as much effort on these men as one does on children, women and families.
Pfeiffer believes this challenge can be overcome despite the dauntingly high number of immigrants. Talk of Germany's police forces being overwhelmed is unfounded, he says. However, if Germany accepts as many refugees this year as it did in 2015, "then we won't manage it."
- Part 1: What a Million Refugees Mean for Everyday Life
- Part 2: Integration 101
- Part 3: Are Refugees More Violent?
- Part 4: Frustration and a Lack of Resources
- Part 5: Teaching Refugees to Swim
- Part 6: 'A Challenge Like No Other'
- Part 7: The Doctor's Advice: Learn German and Be Patient
- Part 8: A 1.5 Billion Burden for the Healthcare System?
- Part 9: Dancing Away Stereotypes and Prejudice
- Part 10: The Midwife's Migraine
- Part 11: Germany Will Need 20,000 New Teachers for Refugees
- Part 12: 'We Need Time'
- Part 13: 'We Will Only Manage This If We Have the Infrastructure'
- Part 14: 'We Will Undergo a Multicultural Transformation'
- Part 15: Refugees at Our Doorsteps
- Part 16: 1.09 Million Refugees Registered in 2015
- Part 17: Policing the Refugee Camps
- Part 18: The Refugee Bill
- Part 19: Integration Will Be a Task for Decades to Come
- Part 20: 'An Open Economy Would Be Unimaginable without Immigration'
- Part 21: BMW Courts Refugees
- Part 22: A Michelin Star and Refugees
- Part 23: 'What Is a Petroleum Technician?'