Police crime statistics (Germany)

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Police crime statistics

description German crime statistics
First edition 1953
Frequency of publication yearly
ISSN (print)

The German police crime statistics ( PKS ) are the best known and most frequently cited crime statistics . It has been published annually by the Federal Criminal Police Office since 1953 . The PKS mainly reports the crimes reported to the police and also provides information about the circumstances, suspects, victims and damage. As so-called initial statistics, the statistical recording takes place only after the police investigations have been completed before the files are handed over to the public prosecutor's office.

In the last three decades there has been in Germany a crime decline relative to offenses total of more than 20%.


The police investigators report the data to the computer centers of the state criminal police either using a data sheet or by entering it directly into a data mask on the work terminal . Table evaluations are carried out there, sometimes monthly, but especially annually, based on key figures that are assigned to specific criminal offenses. The tabular data is passed on to the Federal Criminal Police Office . The police crime statistics are presented annually by the interior ministers of the federal states (from the beginning of February to mid-May) and then in May by the federal interior minister as a nationwide PKS.

The PKS was published for the first time in 1953. While the Reich crime statistics showed mainly data on convicts, the PKS was based on purely police data. In 1959 the state security offenses were spun off from the PKS. Until 2001 they were listed in the specially created Police Criminal Statistics State Protection ( PKS-S ), which is not published as classified information. In 1963, traffic offenses , which make up a not inconsiderable part of crime, were removed from the PKS. Statistically not part of the traffic offenses, and therefore to be recorded in the PKS, are dangerous interventions in rail, ship and air traffic (§ 315 StGB), dangerous interference in road traffic (§ 315b StGB) and the improper manufacture, distribution or spending of license plates (§ 22a StVG).

Electronic data processing was introduced in 1971. The crimes were given a nationwide four-digit key; however, individual, broader keys could be assigned in the federal states. The data were collected uniformly as initial statistics. Numerous characteristics such as damage, age and gender of the perpetrator and victim were recorded.

The suspect count has been changed since 1984. Previously, every suspect was always recorded again if he committed further offenses, the real suspect counting method has now been introduced: If a suspect appears to the police several times in the same crime category within a reporting year, he is only counted once. The advantage of this method of counting results from the fact that the total number of suspects appears completely excessive when multiple suspects are registered.

Since 1993 (all of Berlin since 1991), police crime statistics have been kept valid in what was then the new federal states. The data from 1991 and 1992 are not suitable for presentation due to the changes. The number of keys increased from 105 (1971) to around 400 (2003). However, it should be noted that there were considerable distortions in the homicides between 1993 and 1999, as the cases of the Central Investigation Group for Government and Association Crime (ZERV) - in particular deaths on the inner-German border - were included in the PKS. Since 2007/2008, the federal states have been reporting all individual data sets to the BKA using a six-digit crime code. The amount of data collected has been expanded significantly. In particular, the relationship between victim and suspect is differentiated more finely than before.


The informative value of the police crime statistics is limited. Only crime registered by the police ( bright field crime) is recorded. Therefore, the police crime statistics do not make a complete statement about the change in crime in the detection area, since the change in the bright field does not have to include a change in the dark field, i.e. the area that is not covered. For example, if the number of recorded physical injuries increases, this does not automatically mean that the number of physical injuries also increases in the dark field. Rather, the registered crime depends on a variety of factors, for example the reporting behavior of the population, the police control density (" Lüchow-Dannenberg-Syndrome "), the passing of new criminal laws, changes in criminal law, the definition of power of the police (the police decide whether an act, for example, as assault or attempted murder is included in the PKS) and the population development.

In addition to victim surveys, so-called victimology collects information that goes beyond the bright field documented in the PKS. The German Victimization Survey (DVS) is now being established for Germany , which was previously carried out in 2012 and 2017. In the future, it should be repeated at shorter intervals. It is assumed that there will be an increasing willingness to report and a decreasing number of unreported cases, especially in the case of violence against women .

Phenomena such as the north-south divide in criminal offenses in the PKS (in northern Germany the PKS values ​​are generally higher than in the south) can thus be explained by differences in the factors described above and are not based on people living in northern Germany engage in criminal acts more often.

The much-cited “ foreign crime ” is also an effect of unadjusted statistics. Most of the foreigners living in Germany are male, young, poorer than the average and live in larger cities. All of these characteristics are generally associated with a higher crime rate. Furthermore, foreigners can commit crimes that Germans are unable to commit, such as a violation of the Residence Act . In addition, crimes by tourists, soldiers from other countries stationed here or other foreigners who are only temporarily in Germany are recorded in the PKS as "foreigner crime". However, these people are not listed as foreigners in the population statistics. This makes the proportion of crimes committed by foreigners appear a little higher. The factor "migration history", which takes up a large part of the public discussion, has not been processed for these statistics. The PKS makes no distinction between Germans with and without a migration background .

"The police crime statistics are not a true reflection of the reality of crime, but a more or less close approximation to reality, depending on the type of crime," said the federal chairman of the Federation of German Criminal Investigators (BDK), André Schulz , summarizing the informative value of the PKS in May 2015. The PKS is “only a tally, a proof of work without an assessment of the time and tactical effort of the investigation work in the past year. The PKS also says nothing about the number of cases in which the public prosecutor's office terminates the proceedings or in how many cases a conviction occurs at all ”.

Despite all the methodological uncertainties that are inherent in the figures on crime, criminology nevertheless tries to take into account the interest of the population in finding out something about the extent and development of criminal behavior with suitable statistics. There is no best way to get the numbers. Since 1953, the offenses compiled by the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) for the previous year have been published in the PKS every year . The sociologist Christoph Birkel dealt with questions about their quality and possible alternatives. He described their “measurement errors” and came to the conclusion that, despite everything, there are “mostly good reasons” to “place greater trust in the PKS”. There are "no serious alternatives".


Roughly divided, the PKS contains information on the type and number of offenses recorded, the place and time of the offense, victims and damage, investigation results , age, gender, nationality and other characteristics of the suspects.

With regard to the cases, the registered and resolved cases, the attempts , the damage incurred and the use of a firearm are recorded.

The suspects' age, gender, nationality (and possibly the reason for their stay in Germany) as well as multiple exposure, the status of drug user, the commission of the offense under the influence of alcohol and the location of the crime in relation to the perpetrator's place of residence are registered. The suspect burden number (TVBZ) indicates the number of suspects identified, calculated for 100,000 inhabitants of the corresponding population.

The victims' age and gender as well as their (non-) relationship with the perpetrator are registered. The key numbers are assigned according to criminal or criminological criteria. The leading 0 stands for crimes against life, 1 for crimes against sexual self-determination, 2 for crimes of brutality (i.e. crimes against the freedom of the person or physical integrity), the 3 for thefts without aggravating circumstances, the 4 for thefts with aggravating circumstances, the 5 for fraud and forgery offenses, the 6 for other offenses of the penal code , the 7 for offenses against criminal ancillary laws (such as narcotics law or similar), the 8 stands for the sum key.


The annual edition of the police crime statistics contains, among other things, time series that are offered in electronic form for the period from 1987 onwards. These can be downloaded in both CSV and Excel format. The data given on this page come from the "basic table" in Excel format.

For individual crime areas and for groups of offenses, the recorded cases per year are given there both in absolute numbers and as a frequency number. The frequency figures give cases per 100,000 inhabitants. This makes the development more comparable over longer periods of time with the changing population figures, but also across national borders.

Although frequency figures are more suitable for the overall consideration, there is a striking error here that runs through all time series: With the 2011 census , Germany's population was corrected down by 1.5 million. The new population from 2013 is taken into account in the crime statistics. The diagrams based on frequency numbers seem to jump up by around 1.8% from 2013. Another source of error in comparisons over longer periods of time are changes in the law. The tightening of sex criminal law in 2016 was particularly noticeable .

The specified crime code reference the data in the PKS. They are organized hierarchically. For example, 000000 stands for crimes against life (with a leading zero), 010000 stands for murder, as a subset thereof.

The numbers contain indicated, penalized attempts . The proportion of attempts is between 60% for crimes against life and 2.5% for other crimes .

Decline in crime, international comparison

Long-term evolution of homicide rates in Western Europe

The police crime statistics have shown a significant decline since the early 1990s. The international comparison shows that the development in Germany corresponds to that in other countries. In western countries in particular, a relatively synchronous decline in crime over long periods of time, particularly in the case of violent crime and theft, is well documented.

A groundbreaking study was published in 2003 by Manuel Eisner . He uses the rate of murders as an index of the level of violence in a society over long periods of time and over great spatial distances. The development of the frequency of homicides in several European regions since the late Middle Ages was examined. The numbers dropped everywhere from values ​​between 20 and 70 per 100,000 inhabitants and year to below 1. There was also a relatively synchronous increase in the European countries examined between the late 1950s and the early 1990s. Since then, the rates have been falling again.

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime is now studying crime trends on every continent. Using murder rates as a comparison value, a decline could be identified in all regions of the world. The only exceptions are states on or near the Caribbean.

Total offenses

Cases recorded Total crimes in the years 1987–2019 as a frequency figure (per 100,000 inhabitants). Blue: all ads, black: minus asylum issue with criminal offense code 725000

The grouping of crimes total is the sum of all crimes listed below or the sum of the diagrams below.

A long-term view shows that there was a rapid increase after the fall of the Iron Curtain , culminating in a peak in 1993 with 8,336.7 ads per 100,000 inhabitants. Since then, the frequency figures have decreased by 21.4% to 6,548 in 2019. After deducting the above-described census effect of 1.8%, the decrease is even greater.

The increase in 2015 and 2016 results to a large extent from crimes against the Residence Act, the Asylum Act and the Free Movement Act / EU (in 2016 from 593 cases per 100,000) and should not hide the relatively evenly falling trend since 1993 . Since 2005, the crime statistics have also shown what it looks like if this asylum issue is left out (shown in black in the diagram). The increase in 2011–2015 thus appears to be much less pronounced. The above-described decline in crime since the early 1990s can be clearly seen.

An advantage of the representation with frequency numbers can be seen, for example, for the total number of crimes in the decrease of the curve from 2015 to 2016 by 0.5% from 7,796.6 to 7,754.8. In fact, the absolute number of criminal offenses increased by 0.7% from 2015 to 2016 from 6,330,649 to 6,372,526 cases. In the same period, however, the population has increased, mainly due to migration gains . Fewer crimes were committed in relation to individuals. After deducting the general decline, it could also be concluded that those who were brought in committed fewer crimes.

Breakdown of crime areas in 2019

The crime areas shown below add up to the grouping of crimes as a whole . The pie chart shows the breakdown of the frequency numbers for 2019.

Offenses against life

Cases recorded Criminal offenses against life from 1987-2019 as a frequency number (per 100,000).
Crime Code: 000000.

The incidence of crimes against life fell twice as much as that of total crimes, by 41% (from 6.3 in 1993 to 3.7 in 2019). In crime statistics, they consist of the following five main areas with two sub-areas:

Offenses against sexual self-determination

Cases recorded Crimes against sexual self-determination in the years 1987–2019 as a frequency figure (per 100,000 inhabitants).
Crime Code: 100000.

There have been particularly frequent legislative changes in sex criminal law. This is another reason why trends are less informative here than in other areas of crime. The noticeable increase from 2016 onwards resulted, for example, from the tightening of sex criminal law in 2016 as well as social change and awareness .

Crude crimes and crimes against personal freedom

Cases recorded Crude crimes and crimes against personal freedom in the years 1987–2019 as a frequency figure (per 100,000 inhabitants).
Crime Code: 200,000.

The area of brutality offenses and crimes against personal freedom rose sharply - contrary to the general downward trend. 1987-2007 the numbers doubled and have stagnated ever since.

The area is divided into three groups with the proportions indicated:

Theft without aggravating circumstances §§ 242, 247, 248a-c StGB

Cases recorded Theft without aggravating circumstances in the years 1987–2019 as a frequency figure (per 100,000 inhabitants).
Criminal code: 3 *** 00.

So-called simple theft is in the majority of cases shoplifting or theft in / from kiosks, department stores, sales rooms, self-service shops, shop windows and vehicles. Most recently there were just over a million cases a year. Since the peak in 1993, the incidence has decreased by more than a third.

See also:

Theft under aggravating circumstances §§ 243-244a StGB

Cases recorded Theft under aggravating circumstances in the years 1987–2019 as a frequency figure (per 100,000 inhabitants).
Criminal code: 4 *** 00

When theft with aggravating circumstances is theft, added with the aggravating incriminations. There are now fewer than 800,000 cases each year. In the past three decades the number has decreased by more than two thirds. The three most common areas are:

Property and forgery offenses

Cases recorded property and forgery in the years 1987-2019 as a frequency figure (per 100,000 inhabitants).
Crime Code: 500,000.

Property and counterfeit offenses doubled from the late 1980s to 2005. After a decade of stagnation at a high level, the numbers have fallen by 14% since 2014.

The offenses are divided into six areas with the proportions indicated:

  • 80%: Fraud §§ 263, 263a, 264, 264a, 265, 265a-e StGB. Crime Code: 510000
  • 2%: embezzlement §§ 266, 266a, 266b StGB. Crime Code: 520000
  • 10%: embezzlement §§ 246, 247, 248a StGB. Crime Code: 530000
  • 7%: forgery of documents §§ 267-271, 273-279, 281 StGB. Crime Code: 540000
  • 0.5%: Counterfeiting of money and stamps , forgery of payment cards with or without a guarantee function, checks and bills of exchange, Sections 146-149, 151, 152, 152a, 152b StGB. Crime Code: 550000
  • 0.4%: Insolvency crimes §§ 283, 283a-d StGB. Crime Code: 560000

Other criminal offenses (StGB)

Cases recorded Other criminal offenses (StGB) in the years 1987–2019 as a frequency number (per 100,000 inhabitants).
Crime Code: 600000.

Many different offenses are summarized under other criminal offenses. However, more than half of the ads in this area relate to property damage . From 1987 to the peak of 2008, the number of cases increased by 41%. Since then they have fallen again by 16%.

The area is divided into seven sub-areas, the last of which had the following proportions:

Criminal ancillary laws

Cases recorded Additional criminal law laws in the years 1987–2019 as a frequency number (per 100,000 inhabitants).
Crime Code: 700000.

This area includes criminal offenses that do not fit into any of the areas listed above and that are not related to one another in terms of content. The noticeable increase in 2015 and 2016 results from crimes against the Residence Act, the Asylum Act and the Freedom of Movement Act / EU with the offense code 725,000 (in 2016 from 593 out of 1,069 per 100,000 inhabitants). The environmental and consumer protection sector (code 740 000) was added in 1988.

The area is divided into four sub-areas, which last had the following proportions:

  • 3.4%: Offenses against ancillary criminal law in the business sector. Crime Code: 710000
  • 37%: Offenses against other criminal ancillary laws -without traffic offenses-. Mainly crimes against the Residence Act, the Asylum Act and the Free Movement Act / EU . Crime Code: 720,000
  • 58%: drug offenses (if not already recorded with another code number). Crime Code: 730,000
  • 1.4%: Offenses against ancillary criminal law in the environmental and consumer protection sector . Crime Code: 740,000


  • First periodic safety report BMI / BMJ 2001.
  • Second periodic safety report BMI / BMJ 2006.
  • Bernd Belina : space, surveillance, control. From state access to urban populations. Münster 2006, ISBN 978-3-89691-635-8 , pp. 85 ff.
  • Uwe Dörmann: Numbers don't speak for themselves. Luchterhand, Munich 2004, ISBN 3-472-06077-8 .
  • Werner Lehne: The limited informative value of the police crime statistics. In: Humanist Union e. V. (Ed.): Internal security as a danger. Berlin 2003, pp. 110-124, ISBN 3-930416-23-9 .
  • Reinhard Scholzen : Possibilities and limits of the informative value of police crime statistics . In: Die Polizei , 1, 2003, pp. 16-19.

See also

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. 2010 yearbook (PDF; 3.9 MB) p. 3.
  2. 2010 yearbook (PDF; 3.9 MB) p. 9.
  3. a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Police crime statistics. Federal Criminal Police Office, accessed on March 30, 2020 .
  4. See introduction to the PKS 2009, p. IV.
  5. ^ Federal Criminal Police Office: German Victimization Survey 2017. Accessed on December 16, 2019 .
  6. Federal Ministry of the Interior, Federal Ministry of Justice: Second Periodical Security Report, long version. Pp. 120,121 , accessed December 16, 2019 .
  7. Pfeiffer, C .; Wetzels, P .: The explosion of crime? In: Neue Kriminalpolitik 5 (2/1994): 32 - 39. S. 37.
  8. Frevel, B. (1998): Who is afraid of the bad man? A study book about security and the feeling of security. Baden Baden: p. 31.
  9. Statement on May 6, 2015 on the occasion of the presentation of the PKS 2014 - u. a. by the Federal Minister of the Interior - in Berlin: “BDK: Criminal Statistics 2014 presented: More perpetrators, more deeds!” . The BDK's declaration also states: “Politicians have been wiping their eyes for years and leaving the population in the dark about the actual crime situation. The actual number of cases is well above the 6 million registered criminal offenses. For example, only around 75% of all break-ins are even displayed. In the area of ​​sexual offenses and cybercrime, over 90% of the offenses are not reported at all. In addition, for the first time since 2014, tens of thousands of Internet crime cases are no longer recorded in the statistics if the exact crime scene is not known. Sleight of hand is what they call something! "
  10. Christoph Birkel: Danger from crime in “official” numbers and people's subjective experience: Police crime statistics and unidentified surveys. As the statistics show ... On the measurability of fear of crime and (in) security . In: Jasmin Röllgen (Ed.): 5th SIRA Conference Series . Munich 2014, ISBN 978-3-943207-05-7 ( unibw.de [PDF; 2.2 MB ; accessed on November 24, 2016]).
  11. Christoph Birkel: The police crime statistics and their alternatives . Ed .: Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg , Institute for Sociology. 2003, p. 75 ( uni-bielefeld.de [PDF; 596 kB ; accessed on November 24, 2016]).
  12. Christoph Birkel: The police crime statistics and their alternatives . Ed .: Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg , Institute for Sociology. 2003, p. 77 ( uni-bielefeld.de [PDF; 596 kB ; accessed on November 24, 2016]).
  13. Crime phenomena (PDF)
  14. Michael Tonry: Why Crime Rates Are Falling Throughout the Western World . In: Crime & Justice . tape 43 , no. 1 , 2014, p. 1–2 , doi : 10.1086 / 678181 (English, alternative full text access : scholarship.law.umn.edu ).
  15. Manuel Eisner : Long-Term Historical Trends in Violent Crime . The University of Chicago, 2003 (English, download [PDF]).
  16. Manuel Eisner: Modernity Strikes Back? A Historical Perspective on the Latest Increase in Interpersonal Violence (1960–1990). P. 297f , accessed on September 18, 2019 (English).
  17. United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime: Global Study on Homicide, Executive Summary / Booklet 1. Accessed August 11, 2019 .
  18. Delicate handling of sensitive numbers. Bayerischer Rundfunk, accessed on July 25, 2020 .