Switzerland: Preferred Destination for Criminal Tourists
A long list of posts and translations backed up while I was away in Brussels last week. I’ve caught up on current news, and am now working my way through the backlog.
The following account from Blick.ch features an interview with a Swiss police union leader about the crisis caused by immigrant crime. Many thanks to Hermes for the translation:
15,000 police agents not enough in Switzerland!
SonntagsBlick met Jean-Marc Widmer, the top representative of Switzerland’s police union. Widmer strongly demands more personal and he is ready to break taboos, too.
The population and the police officers are frustrated. Petty criminals make the life of the Swiss population difficult. They are mostly asylum-seekers and criminal tourists. They commit burglaries, break-ins, and attacks, and steal cars. Many of them are recidivists
In the Canton Aargau, the number of burglaries and robberies rose by 30% in comparison with 2011. The number of car burglaries increased by 150%. In Canton Baselland police openly complain about the fact that criminal tourists simply laugh at them. As soon as they are arrested they are set free again.
Cantons Geneva and Waadt are nowadays witnessing an explosive number of cases involving cross-border criminality. French gangs act with an ever-increasing aggressiveness.
Taking into account the whole of Switzerland, robberies increased last year by a 16%, which means 580 filed complaints every day. Housebreakings rose 5%. It seems that Switzerland cannot handle the situation.
For this reason SonntagsBlick conducted an interview with Jean-Marc Widmer, the top representative of Switzerland’s police union. He demands tougher punishments, border controls, and many more agents. Additional agents are allegedly to be recruited amongst foreigners who would be naturalized through an accelerated procedure.
Q: Mr. Widmer, do you and your colleagues find it pleasant to work as police agents? A: Morale in the corps is getting lower. The work has changed a lot during the last years. Aggression against police agents, both male and female, is increasing. We spend too little time in the streets and too much time behind the desk. We have lots of paperwork to do. Agents are increasingly being sued. Political support was also greater then. Q: Criminal tourists are nowadays a huge problem. A: Geneva was always a preferred place for gangs coming from Lyon. Ever since the [creation of the] new code of criminal procedure from January 1, 2011, Switzerland has become a paradise for those criminals. They are not risking much, even if spotted. This news spreads fast in those circles. Romanians just laugh when they get an order of punishment in [their homes in] Romania. Q: Many agents feel frustrated. Do you understand this? A: Of course I understand this! They catch a burglar, a robber or a dealer, and spend hours in the night writing the rapport, thus spending extra hours. And when they come on duty again the next night, they meet the same burglar. He walks around free. Q: This must be discouraging. Does one think in these cases on putting his integrity at risk when detaining somebody?
A: No, but many times we are threatened with guns or knives. Do you remember that attack with Kalashnikovs against a bank in Geneva? The brutal burglars could escape, but [after] we caught one of them, he promptly filed a complaint against the agent who caught him. Q: And when drinking beer in the evening of an off-day, one hears: “Hey, you let them all free!” A: Yes, this hurts us. It is also hard for the families of the agents. Q: The situation is similar with asylum seekers from North Africa. They rob, riot, break into cars. A: There we have a big problem. We must accept real asylum seekers who are being persecuted, that’s taken for granted. But we must take care not to import criminality from abroad. Q: Or one pays 4,000 francs to criminals so that they then leave the country, as the Canton Geneva does. A: That’s ridiculous! A big mistake. The biggest problem we have in Geneva are the gangs from Lyon. They laugh at the 4,000 francs. They get 10,000 francs from a single car burglary. It is similar with the drug dealers. Q: What do you demand from politicians? A: We need more severe punishments. The criminal code must be put fully into practice. Criminals must go to prison as soon as possible and must not be allowed to go free till the sentence is handed down. And we urgently need agreements with North African countries. They must be forced to take their criminals back. Criminals imprisoned in France request to be brought to Switzerland. Here they expect to get milder punishments. This cannot be allowed to happen. Q: It looks like the criminals are always one step ahead of the police. A: This has become more prominent with the new technologies. Criminals use mobiles, the Internet, and Facebook. They can plan their actions much more rapidly and better. We have a deficit there. Q: Is there any solution at all? Or do we have to accept that we live in a place which is no longer safe? A: It is hard with respect to drug crime. The situation will get worse in this aspect. But the situation regarding burglaries and housebreakings can still be dealt with. But we must act now. We need more agents. Better today than tomorrow. Q: You demand 15,000 extra agents. The same number as already in service. This is almost impertinent. A: No. Switzerland needs 31,000 agents for its 8 million inhabitants. Belgium has some 38,000 agents for 11 million. And New York has 40,000 for 7 million. Compared to the rest of Europe, Switzerland is a country with fewer agents. Q: Do you want a police state? A: Not at all. But what does the population prefer? A larger and more efficient police presence with 31,000 agents? Or a country of crimes? Q: How does the lack of agents affect to the brigades? A: Many agents suffer from physical fatigue. We work too many extra hours. This affects the very core of the person. This overstressing can lead to burnout. Q: Do you find enough Swiss people willing to join the police? A: We probably won’t find enough people [for this]. Q: So the demand for 15,000 new agents is over? A: No, we can accept foreigners. Q: The majority of cantons oppose foreigners as agents. A: We must loosen this rule, as already happens in Geneva. In this way, Germans, Austrians of French people with a “c” class settlement status who, according to this, have been living in Switzerland for five years, could become police agents. They will undergo a one year training in a police academy in order to prepare them for the deployment. After the training, and before being sworn in, they could be nationalized through an accelerated procedure. This could be done through an exemptive clause. Q: And who would pay for the training of the foreigner agents? A: The union. There are already millions for combat jets. But I ask myself about where is security more at risk, in the air or in the streets. A glance at the criminal statistics shows the answer. This is just a question of political will. We must consider security in everyday life as something valuable. Q: What happened if you don’t get the 15,000 new agents? A: We do not want to get them all at once, but perhaps over a period of ten years. But it’s important to speak about the issue. Our citizens’ security concerns us all. The Federal Assembly must realize the urgency [of this issue]. One hears about the parties just before the elections. I myself will make this a strong concern in Bern. And I’ll be adamant Q: You want to lobby in Bern for a French-style rapid deployment force. A: We need a mobile corps for all of Switzerland. So one could also strengthen the federal police. This group could be in Geneva on Saturday at the Servette vs. Sitten football match, and on Sunday at the ZF Zurich vs. Basel match. This would unburden the cantonal corps, but would not disempower them. Q: Your project could have a rough ride in federalist Switzerland A: Not if we succeed in showing that we help the cantons and do not deprive them of any power. Q: You have another goal which you stated just after being elected. You want to fight violence against police agents. A: We urgently need a tightening of the law. Those insulting, attacking or making death threats to police agents in service must feel the full rigor of justice on them. Aggressions against agents must be condemned by the politicians and the cantons. Nowadays this unfortunately happens on rare occasions. Q: In earlier times, the village policeman was a respected person. Nowadays this vision of them is fading, when one has to deal with the police. What has gone wrong? A: This is a social problem. It’s also not easy for teachers and train attendants. Parents have an intense influence over their children, but often they do not realize this. Video games and YouTube videos have a devastating effect on youngsters. There are games in which you get 100 extra points if you kill a police agent. This material should be retired. Q: Police agents belong to the group of those who most loudly criticise the Schengen treaty. A: No, this agreement has also its valid points, for example for travelers. But unfortunately also for criminals. They can smuggle weapons and drugs, and engage in human trafficking, without being thoroughly controlled. We the police have been deceived with Schengen. Of course, the access to the European database of people wanted by justice helps us. We are now seeing the serious effects open borders have. Our borders have become a sieve. Schengen has done us more harm than good. Q: Would you perhaps want to terminate the Schengen treaty? A: No, but we need special rules in Switzerland. We must protect our borders again, just as Denmark does now. Open borders make police work more difficult, and people don’t feel secure in their countries anymore. This should not be allowed to happen. We can now talk about our own bad experiences. If not, then we have our hands tied. I know what happens at the Swiss borders. I’ve was in service there earlier. It cannot be that now anybody can cross the Swiss borders with no control at all.
For a complete listing of previous enrichment news, see The Cultural Enrichment Archives.