Overall crime down in Germany, but child porn, cybercrime up

BERLIN (AP) — Germany’s overall crime rate continues to decline, but the country has seen a steep increase in the distribution of child pornography and cybercrime, top security officials said Tuesday.

The distribution of child pornography in Germany more than doubled last year, going up 108.8% in 2021 compared to the year before, officials told a news conference on the country’s annual crime statistics report.

“The appalling extent of sexualized violence against children is a clear mandate for me to take action with all possible consequences,” German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser told reporters in Berlin.

“Combating the sexual abuse of children and the dissemination of heinous abuse photos and videos via the Internet is a top priority,” she added, vowing that she would further strengthen the Federal Criminal Police Office and increase pressure on investigating those crimes.

Faeser said the government is also working on improving the analysis of data, including through the use of artificial intelligence, to combat child pornography and its distribution.

One of the reasons for the increase in reports on child porn distribution is Germany’s cooperation with the United States’ National Center of Missing and Exploited Children, which has been informing authorities about offenses in Germany.

As in past years, the number of cybercrimes has continued to grow. In 2021, 146,363 cases were recorded, an increase of 12.1% compared to the year before.

“The number of cybercrime cases has roughly doubled since 2015,” said Holger Muench, the head of the country’s Federal Criminal Police Office. “In order to keep pace, we need to quickly drive the digital transformation in policing.”

Overall, Germany has seen a decline of crime since 2017. In 2021, 5,047,860 criminal offenses were recorded, a decrease of 4.9% compared to the previous year.

A total of 1,892,003 suspects were identified, three quarters of them male.

In violent crime, the number of cases fell 6.8% to 164,646.

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