Thematic focus: Control of the police

Controlling the police – a democratic matter of course
by Norbert Pütter
Unlike other „western democracies”, Germany has constantly ignored the claims of international human rights bodies and national civil liberties organisations to set up independent police monitoring and complaints commissions. Ministers of the Interior and ruling parties stick to authoritarian German state traditions, in which the police shall serve the state rather than the citizens or the local community. Experiences in other countries, however, show that complaints commissions not only might help people to defend their rights in cases of police violence. They also are an instrument of managing legitimation for the police themselves.

Identification badges: New debates, old arguments
by Tobias Peter
For decades German civil liberties organisations have been campaigning in vain for an introduction of mandatory identification badges for police officers. Now, two Länder have made a move: In autumn 2010 Berlin decided to introduce such badges, Brandenburg followed in May 2011. In several other Länder, debates have started. But police unions supported by the Christian Democrats oppose numbers or name badges as a violation of the officers’ privacy and a sign of distrust against the police.

Who really holds the Dutch Police accountable
by Rick van Amersfoort
There doesn’t seem to be a lack of institutions for control and inspection of the police in the Netherlands. However, prosecutors are bound by loyalty to the police who work for them, judges only see parts of the investigation dossier brought together by the police, inspection bodies care mostly about improving police work, deal with single aspects and depend on the Ministry of Justice that will also be the competent authority for the police after the nationalisation process, which is under way. In the course of nationalisation, the mayors will loose their power over the police, and the local councils will have no more chance to interfere.

Worth the trust? The control of the police in Norway
by Liv Finstad
Five years ago Norway revised the system of police control. Since then complaints against police officers can be filed through two tracks: A formally independent Bureau for the Investigation of Police Affairs investigates crimes committed on duty; the chiefs of police districts are in charge of complaints related to incidents of non criminal nature. Though Norway is quite progressive in this respect, improvements should be made by easing practical dependencies between the Bureau and the police and by harmonising the reception of complaints.

Non-thematic articles:

After the Nazi murder series: Pointless actions instead of clarifying facts
by Heiner Busch
At 4 November 2011 two members of the „National Socialist Underground” committed suicide in their mobile home and a third set fire to the shared apartment. The trio, which had disappeared in 1998 right under the eyes of the domestic intelligence service, is responsible for the killing of nine immigrants between 2000 and 2006. Instead of clearing up the facts, especially the role of the intelligence service, the Federal Minister of the Interior has announced the creation of a new centre for cooperation of police and intelligence services and of a new database.

Extremism trap
by Heike Kleffner
Since the beginning of 2011 projects against racism and right wing extremism are forced to sign a declaration of commitment to the „constitutional order of freedom and democracy”, if they want to receive government funding. The Federal Ministry of Youth and Family Affairs insists, that they also check the political loyalty of partner organisations and speakers at meetings.

Anti-terror-law renewed
by Mark Holzberger
After a biased and superficial evaluation report by the Federal Ministry of the Interior, the Bundestag extended and expanded the powers of the intelligence services almost ten years after they have been introduced by the anti-terror-law of January 2002.

Satellite based supervision of conduct
by Helmut Pollähne
Following a decision of the European Court of Human Rights in December 2009, Germany had to rearrange the legal bases for preventive detention beyond the end of a prison sentence. According to the new law, in force since January 2011, released prisoners may be put under an electronic surveillance via the Global Positioning System to prevent them from entering into forbidden zones.

Violence against the police
by Norbert Pütter
In summer 2011, the debate on „violence against police officers” has reached a new stage: The Criminological Research Institute of Lower Saxony has presented the third part of its study, the Ministers of the Interior decided to produce uniform situation reports in the future, and the Bundestag approved a more severe punishment of obstructing officers’ execution of duties.

Fatal shootings by police in 2010
by Otto Diederichs
A total of 37 shots were fired upon persons by the German police in the year 2009; 10 additional shots were declared to be „against objects”. Eight people were thereby killed and 23 injured.