In the future, it will be impossible for Berlin police officers to attach the label “migration background” to a perpetrator of capital crimes – and you can no longer search for this criterion. This renewed demonstration of “misunderstood tolerance” by the left-wing city government met with resentment from both the public prosecutor’s office and the police union.
By Aurora Peregrine
The police computer system POLIKS exists no more references to a migration background in the future by German suspects under the age of 21. Until recently, the Berlin police had to consider the following when logging serious crimes: is the perpetrator under the age of 21? If so, does this person have a migration background? If both questions were answered in the affirmative, the clerk had to mark the perpetrator with a mouse click as “migration background”.
In Germany, the police are a matter for the federal states and therefore there are also differences in data collection. This additional function was available to the Berlin police from spring 2011 to summer 2022. German criminal suspects who had not yet reached the age of 21 were thus marked in the POLIKS. The selection of the function was intended for capital offenses such as murder, manslaughter, rape, sexual assault and crimes of brutality.
With the introduction in 2011, politicians in Berlin hoped to gain insights into possible connections between a migration background and undesirable social developments or unequal educational opportunities. As a result, prevention packages should be put together to curb crime and presumably to promote integration. This possibility of obtaining information has been passé since August 3, 2022.
As justification for the deactivation of the filter function, the management of the Berlin authorities put forward the following two main arguments: The information obtained remained largely unused and the information about the migration background contradicts the data protection guidelines.
This decision met with incomprehension from the Berlin chief public prosecutor and author Ralph Knipsel. For Knipsel, the possibility of labeling would have been of great importance and, among other things, would have allowed insight into the person of the perpetrator and enabled future prognoses.
Criticism also came from the police union (GdP). The GdP spokesman Benjamin Jendro spoke of “misunderstood tolerance”. The references to the migration background alone are also relevant for the work of the criminal police. The city administration also justified the measure with the fact that the proportion of immigrants in Berlin is high overall.
In this context, it is interesting that the Berlin House of Representatives passed a draft amendment to the Participation and Integration Act (PartIntG) on June 17, 2022. In the resulting Participation Act (PartMigG). special emphasis was placed on the diversity of Berlin’s lifestyles. For example, the word migration background was replaced. This is intended to counteract discrimination, disadvantage and exclusion in the future.
From now on it is good form to people with a migration background to speak. The diversity of Berlin should also be reflected in the public service – in administration as well as in politics. That means in plain language, that the share of employment of people with a migration background in the public sector is increased.
Everyone can answer for themselves whether the deactivation of the “Migration background” button goes hand in hand with the participation agenda.