With a special deployment concept, the police tried to prevent mass sexual assaults on New Year’s Eve in the St. Pauli neighborhood.
Foretaste of New Year’s Eve: police officers in high-visibility vests in the Grobe Freiheit. Photo: Axel Heimken/dpa
Nothing like this again: mass sexual assaults on women by groups of men on New Year’s Eve as last year, the police want to prevent this New Year. "We had to deal with a phenomenon of sexual violence last year that was not known nationwide," says police spokesman Timo Zill. "Now we are prepared for it."
On New Year’s Eve, he said, police will double the number of officers at hot spots in Grosse Freiheit and Jungfernsteig to 530 uniformed police officers. The number of civilian investigators and criminal police investigators will even be tripled, he said. "During the period of operation, numerous police officers will have a permanently visible presence in Grobe Freiheit Street," police spokesman Ulf Wundrack explains the concept. The uniformed officers will wear reflective yellow vests with the inscription "Polizei" for better recognition.
A mobile police station will be installed on Beatles-Platz at the entrance to Grobe Freiheit, where reports can be taken and where prosecution can be initiated immediately. "If the rush of visitors in the Great Freedom becomes too strong, it is planned to limit access situationally by setting up provided Hamburg bars," says Wundrack.
In addition, the police will make greater use of video surveillance, he said, and officers with body cams will be on the streets. A "Power Moon" lighting balloon will provide additional light in Schmuckstrabe. The police had already coordinated with the club operators in advance. For example, some clubs will deploy more bouncers, who will not only give shelter to harassed women, but will also report accumulations of men to the police.
The Jungfernstieg will be monitored with video cameras and the Alster jetty will be illuminated with the help of additional light poles. The water police will observe the goings-on from the water.
This operational concept, the implementation of which will be reported by the police social media team via Twitter on New Year’s Eve, is based on the recommendation of a project group set up by the Federal Ministry of the Interior and the state police forces following the mass attacks in Cologne and Hamburg.
On New Year’s morning 2016, police in Hamburg had been surprised by the sexual assaults by groups of men dancing on women. "We had no knowledge of the extent of the assaults during the night," said the head of operations and chief of the Davidwache neighborhood precinct, Cornelia Schroder, later in the Interior Committee of the Burgerschaft.
Police spokesman Ulf Wundrack
"In the street Grobe Freiheit, numerous police forces will have a permanent visible presence during the period of operation."
According to Schroder, no calls for help were received by her officers on the scene or via the emergency call during the night. The crowd of 60,000 Kiez visitors had been so large "that the scope of action of the deployed forces was very limited," as Schroder said. The police had not wanted to cause a panic.
Later, a total of 243 complaints were filed by 403 women who had been harassed, groped and stolen from. The "Investigation Group New Year’s Eve" was able to identify 23 suspects, mainly by locating stolen cell phones, and arrested seven suspects. Four defendants had to be acquitted in later court proceedings because the offenses they were accused of could not be attributed to them.