Reports of hate crimes in Denmark increase by over 25 percent

The number of reports of hate crimes registered by Danish police increased by almost 27 percent between 2018 and 2019.

Reports of hate crimes in Denmark increase by over 25 percent
Photo: Mads Claus Rasmussen/Ritzau Scanpix

International and domestic events as well as a police campaign against hate speech may all be factors in the apparent increase in reports, according to a National Police press release.

While 2018 saw as many as 449 cases of hate speech reported to police, the figure increased to 569 in 2019.

The increase primarily consists of complaints of hate crime related to race or religion, while those related to sexual orientation are generally unchanged compared to previous years, according to the national police.

Although more instances were reported, the number of hate crimes actually committed has not necessarily gone up, head of national police Thorkild Fogde said.

“We cannot say for certain what has caused the increase but we can assert that we saw an increase in the wake of a campaign at the end of 2019 in which we encouraged those subjected to or witnesses of hate crimes to contact the police,” Fogde said.

“We have previously said that this is an area with undetected cases and I hope this increase reflects a drop in undetected cases because more people have become aware of what a hate crime is and because more are reporting instances to the police,” he noted.

“But it is clear that an increase by almost 27 percent is remarkable and something we must take very seriously,” he noted.

The minister of justice, Nick Hækkerup, said the government is prepared to take measures to reduce hate crimes.

“Nobody in Denmark should be assaulted or harassed because of something like their religion or sexuality,” Hækkerup said in the statement.

The government has in recent months “been in dialogue with a number of key actors in this area, and later in the year we will announce a number of measures related to hate crimes,” he said.

Peter Steffensen, a senior officer in acting charge of the National Police’s centre for prevention of hate crimes (Rigspolitiets Nationale Forebyggelsescenter) said the high number of complaints had the positive effect of increasing police understanding of hate crimes.

“Because there are more reports, a clearer picture is formed of how hate crimes are distributed across motive categories and crime types,” Steffensen said in the press release.

“For example, we can see a trend whereby violent hate crime is most widespread in cases related to sexual orientation, while a large proportion of religiously motivated hate crime takes place online. This is important and useful knowledge,” he said.

“It’s not certain that we can always find the culprit in individual cases, but the more reports we get, the better the impression we can get of whether, for example, many hate crimes take place in a certain group or certain environment, and we can adapt our preventative efforts and patrols accordingly,” he added.

In 2019, 143 charges were brought in hate crime 120 cases against 117 people. The previous year saw84 charges against 101 people.

READ ALSO: Danish police call for public to report hate crimes

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Black people in Germany face ‘widespread’ racism, survey finds

In the Afrocensus, a first-of-its-kind survey charting the lived experiences of black people in Germany, the vast majority revealed they experienced 'extensive' discrimination in almost all aspects of public life.

Dr Karamba Diaby
Dr Karamba Diaby, an SPD politician and anti-racism advocate, carries out voluntary work in his constituency of Halle, Saxony-Anhalt. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-Zentralbild | Hendrik Schmidt

“The results of the Afrocensus indicate that anti-Black racism is widespread in Germany and anchored in institutions,” the authors of the new report said in a press release on Tuesday. “There is no area of life in which discrimination and racism are not extensive problems.”

Though the overwhelming majority of respondents said they had experienced discrimination at least ‘sometimes’ in almost all areas of life, housing was the area where they said they were discriminated against most often.

Just two percent of respondents to the Afrocensus said they had ‘rarely’ or ‘never’ experienced racism in the housing market, compared to more than 90 percent who said they had experienced it ‘often’ or ‘very often’.

READ ALSO: ‘Black lives need to matter in Germany’ New project to uncover racism in everyday life

Experiences with police and security personnel also counted among areas of life where racism was particularly prevalent: 88 percent of respondents had experienced discrimination from security staff ‘often’ or ‘very often’, while around 85 percent had had the same experience with police.

More than 85 percent had also experienced racism in their education or in the workplace ‘often’ or ‘very often’ in Germany. One in seven had lost their job during the Covid crisis. 

According to the report, 90 percent of respondents had also experienced having their hair grabbed, while more than half (56 percent) had been stopped by the police or asked for drugs by strangers.

Meanwhile, 80 percent said people had made comments about the colour of their skin or sexualised comments about their race on dating apps. A vast majority – 90 percent – also revealed they hadn’t been believed when they’d spoken out about racism in the past, or that people had said they were “too sensitive”. 

READ ALSO: OPINION: My experiences of everyday racism in Germany

In spite of widespread discrimination, almost half (47 percent) of the respondents were engaged and active in their community – mostly carrying out some form of social or voluntary work.

First of its kind

Based on wide-ranging data, the findings paint a vivid and concerning picture of what life is like for the one million or so black people living in Germany today.

To produce the report, researchers from Berlin-based Black community group Each One Teach One and Citizens for Europe conducted an extended survey of 6,000 black people from the Africans and Afrodiasporic community to try and discover more about on the everyday lives and experiences of this group. The survey was carried out between July and September 2020. 

It represents one of the first attempts to gather a wealth of quantitative data on this subject, and as such offers some of the first truly scientific insights into anti-Black racism in modern Germany.

“With the Afrocensus, we have succeeded in doing exactly what has long been demanded within the black community for a long time: making the realities of our lives visible within the framework of qualitative, but above all quantitative research,” Dr. Pierrette Herzberger-Fofana und Dr. Karamba Diaby wrote in a foreword to the report. 

Diaby, a high-profile politician within the centre-left SPD party, was one of only two Afro-German politicians in parliament when he first took his seat in 2013. He has since become known for promoting political engagement and empowerment within the migrant and black community. 

In January 2020, an unknown gunman fired shots through the window of his constituency office in Halle, Saxony-Anhalt, in a suspected racially motivated attack. 

READ ALSO: How people with migrant backgrounds remain underrepresented in German politics

Since the Second World War, Germany has avoided gathering data that allows people to be traced by ethnicity as a means of protecting persecuted groups.

However, critics say this approach only works to make the issues faced by these groups invisible. 

Writing on Twitter, Daniel Gyamerah, Division Lead at Citizens For Europe, called for an “action plan for tackling anti-Black racism and for empowering black, African and Afrodiasporic people” and the establishment of advice centres for people facing racism and discrimination.

More research into the intersectional experience of black people in Germany is needed, he added.