Crime in berlin: tracking down violence

Police counted nearly 15,000 cases of domestic violence in 2017. The justice administration wants more money for the violence protection outpatient clinic.

In the violence protection outpatient clinic, victims can have injuries documented in a court-proof manner Photo: dpa

The justice administration wants to further expand the violence protection outpatient clinic at the Charite. Due to high demand, the outpatient clinic is "at its capacity limit, so that a further increase in personnel should be sought for the 2020/2021 double budget," according to a response to a parliamentary question from the FDP. The opening hours of the outpatient clinic should be expanded, which also requires an "increase in funding," the justice administration informs.

The violence outpatient clinic at the Charite has existed in Berlin since 2014. It offers victims of violence the opportunity to be examined confidentially by forensic doctors. Injuries such as strangulation marks or bruises are documented and DNA traces are secured. The victims can then take their time to decide whether or not to press charges. If the case goes to trial, the documentation can be used in court.

According to the Violence Protection Outpatient Clinic, more than 2,500 victims turned to the center in the first four years. Often it is women who want to have their injuries documented, but the forensic experts also frequently examine children. It is not only the police or doctors who refer to the service; the youth welfare offices also use it, for example, to clarify cases of child endangerment.

The Senate is supporting the expansion of the project: While the outpatient clinic began in 2014 with one female forensic pathologist, six female doctors were already employed in 2016. A mobile service was also introduced in 2016: Victims of violence who are housed in another clinic can also be examined by the forensic doctors. Almost one million euros will be available to the violence outpatient clinic in each of 20.

Almost half of the victims who turned to the outpatient clinic were victims of domestic violence, the justice administration wrote in its response to the parliamentary question. Feedback from law enforcement agencies had shown that documenting the injuries in these cases often led to a confession by the accused. For the victims, this is a real help: it saves them from having to testify in court, which can be very stressful for those affected.

Documentation of violence often leads to a confession by the defendant

On the occasion of the International Day of Action against Violence against Women on Sunday, the Senate has published new data on domestic violence: according to these, the Berlin police registered 14,605 victims of intra-family or partner violence in 2017. Although the number of victims had fallen by 50 overall compared to the previous year, the number of women affected among them had increased by 165. Thus, the number of cases of domestic violence, which is mostly directed against women and girls, continues to stagnate at a high level, the Senate Department for Health, Care and Equality announced.

According to the administration, a total of 1,097 women and 1,035 children were accommodated in women’s shelters and shelters in 2017. After that, it became increasingly difficult for them to find a new place to stay in the tight housing market, it said. For this reason, assistance in finding housing has been expanded. Apparently with success: the proportion of women who stayed in a women’s shelter for significantly longer than three months fell for the first time in 2017, from 33 to 23.6 percent. 470 women applied for housing, which led to 217 rental contracts.

This was a welcome development, according to Dilek Kolat (SPD), Senator for Health and Equal Opportunities. She emphasized that the protection and assistance system for women affected by violence must now be further expanded.

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