Berlin's Governing Mayor Franziska Giffey and Federal Minister of the Interior Nancy Faeser have announced consequences after the attacks on the police and fire brigade on New Year's Eve. Giffey believes that the judiciary needs to rethink the violence, including among young people during the riots.
It is important to punish crimes quickly and consistently, especially in the case of young people who commit multiple crimes, she said on Friday during a joint visit with Faeser and Interior Senator Iris Spranger (all SPD) to the Neukölln fire station.
On the night of New Year's Day, police officers and firefighters were attacked in several cities, including with firecrackers and rockets. The attacks were particularly violent in some areas of Berlin. The discussion about the consequences of the riots falls in the middle of the Berlin election campaign: On February 12, the elections for the House of Representatives and the district parliaments are due to be repeated.
Giffey said the question was, "How committed are we to ensuring that punishment follows promptly. That young offenders still know what they are being sentenced for." she acknowledged that the issue of expeditious criminal proceedings was not new. However, Giffey says that it has been somewhat neglected in recent years. "I think we need to get back there."
Correctness before speed
Berlin's Senator for Justice Lena Kreck (left) assumes extensive investigations after the New Year's Eve riots. According to their assessment, an accelerated procedure based on the Neukölln model is therefore not suitable for the prosecution of criminal offences. "It is important that the judgments are accurate," Kreck told the German Press Agency on Friday.
From the point of view of the German Association of Judges, the rapid criminal prosecution demanded by politicians is only possible with more staff. Nationwide, the criminal courts and public prosecutor's offices lacked more than 1,000 lawyers. Public prosecutors have been working at the breaking point for years, it said. "In view of the high workload and constantly growing tasks, a trend reversal towards faster procedures can only succeed with significantly more staff," said Federal Managing Director Sven Rebehn of the German Press Agency.
Federal Interior Minister Faeser said she wanted to tighten gun laws, especially with regard to the purchase of alarm guns. These played a major role on New Year's Eve, but were "not a harmless instrument". "It's a weapon. You need a permit for that," emphasized the Interior Minister. "I think this tightening is an important signal." Faeser had previously spoken out in favor of tightening gun laws.
Giffey: "Set of measures" necessary
Berlin's Senator for the Interior, Iris Spranger, who has just taken over the chair of the Conference of Interior Ministers, also wants to promote the topic. "What Berlin can do, we will do. And what we can do in the federal government, we will of course also discuss with the interior ministers," she said.
Giffey added that after crossing the border on New Year's Eve, a "set of measures" was necessary. One is consistent criminal prosecution, the second is better equipment and facilities for the police and fire brigade. "The third is a nationwide debate about the need for legislative changes." The question is: "What needs to be different nationwide in Germany?" It is now crucial not only to advise, but to act quickly. "There can't be another New Year's Eve like this."
At the same time, the SPD politician thinks it's wrong to only focus on New Year's Eve. "It's the tip of the iceberg. It's the eruption of violence on an evening where certain groups have deemed it legitimate," she said. "But it is also a decline in values, a disrespect that is visible on all other days." There are obviously young people who no longer feel a part of society and no longer feel obliged to do so.
Giffey announced the Senate would consider the issue on Tuesday. There will also be a summit on youth violence on Wednesday.
The SPD politicians, together with Berlin's fire chief Karsten Homrighausen, met around two dozen emergency services at the Neukölln fire station, who reported on their experiences on New Year's Eve. The fire station in Berlin-Neukölln is not far from Hermannstrasse. In this part of the district there have been particularly heavy attacks on the police and fire brigade.
Fire department spokesman Thomas Kirstein said it was a "heated debate". The firefighters said it was crucial what was actually implemented.