Authorities in Germany have published guidelines for how civilians should respond should they come face to face with an attacker armed with a knife.
Suggestions on how to act were issued by a police spokesperson to the German newspaper, Schwäbische Zeitung, after a recent incident where a woman and her child were confronted by a man wielding a blade in the town of Bad Waldsee, Baden-Württemberg.
The mother bravely kicked her attacker in the shin and fled carrying her child; both escaped harm. However, police were asked whether this was the right approach, and if not, what civilians should do in such a situation.
Daniela Baier, a spokesperson for the Ravensburg police department, advised those feeling threatened to act confidently.
“Scream at the perpetrator, shout at the perpetrator, and keep your distance,” she said. “Bystanders may become aware of the situation and be able to rush to help.
“As soon as possible, the victim or a witness should call 911 and notify the police,” the spokesperson added.
The advice was ridiculed by the leader of the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, Alice Weidel, who called the recommendations “pointless” and suggested that most perpetrators would not understand their victims, citing the disproportionate correlation between knife attacks and foreign suspects.
“It also demonstrates the helplessness of the security authorities, who are being abandoned by their state and federal governments,” Weidel added.
It was reported back in 2021 that German police authorities had recorded over 20,000 knife attacks around the country in the previous year – approximately 50 knife attacks a day. The vast majority of known suspects were foreign nationals or people with a migration background.
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In June, the Berliner Zeitung wrote an article stating that police had recorded a total of 3,317 knife attacks in the German capital in 2022. Of the 2,428 known suspects, a total of 1,234 were foreign nationals.
This is only half the story since German crime data records foreign-born citizens who commit crimes as Germans, skewing the data even more.
Knife attacks in Germany are on the rise despite attempts by government ministers to combat the growing problem. A total of 2,600 knife-related crimes were recorded in Berlin in 2020, a figure which grew to 2,777 in 2021 and 3,317 last year.
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In June, German state interior ministers met to discuss how to tackle the issue of growing migrant crime. Several high-profile attacks were highlighted during the meeting, including the case of a young German couple who were stabbed to death by a Palestinian migrant on a train in January this year.
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