German police have clocked up almost half a million hours in overtime since the country reinstated border controls with Austria last month. At the same time some members have been forced to put in 80-hour working weeks just to keep the force’s numbers on the front line.
According to the Berliner Morgenpost, the strains on German police are beginning to show and other general policing tasks are being set aside to meet demand.
This is clear in a published reply from the Ministry of the Interior to a German parliamentary inquiry into the current state of the country’s police force in light of the ongoing migrant crisis.
The answer said: “Between September 13th and October 16th, 2015, extra police services were rendered in the amount of approximately 500,000 hours”. In addition, police in Bavaria on the frontier with Austria were working “during border control operations up to 80-hours a week” and a regular daily shift could “last up to 13 hours”.
Federal Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere announced on the evening of September 13 that Germany would introduce controls on the border with Austria as record numbers of asylum seekers, most of them from the Middle East, had stretched the system to breaking point. “This step has become necessary,” he told a press conference in Berlin, adding it would cause disruption.
The Green Party interior expert Irene Mihalic criticized the steep climb in overtime. “The staffing situation for the Federal police is even more tense than the government has revealed,” she said. “The number of overtime hours that are incurred due to the current refugee situation shows that the Federal Police personnel are under strain.”
The deputy head of the police union (GdP), Jörg Radek, was also alarmed. “We have a situation where the overload limit has long passed,” he said.
The head of the German police union, Rainer Wendt, warned of an “enormous burden”. He added: “Nobody knows how overtime like this can be ever paid; this goes directly to the detriment of health and the families of officials.”
Germany expects to take in up to 1.5 million migrants in 2015 alone, according to latest estimates, up from a previous estimate of 800,000 to 1 million.
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