There is trouble in the Hessian first reception centre for refugees in Gießen. Assault, drugs, theft – the police station Gießen-Nord is called out to the accommodation repeatedly every day. Police officers feel abandoned by politics and their own leadership and report a worrying situation, backed up by cases from their daily work. The regional council in Gießen, which is responsible for the initial reception centre, says that the majority of the 1,800 residents of the asylum centre on Rödgener Street, which has a capacity of about 2,000 people, are behaving inconspicuously and in accordance with the rules. The incidents described by the police officers, however, “largely correspond to what happened”.
The bare figures reflect an increasing escalation. 905 times the police officers of the northern Giessen station were called to the first reception centre last year, the police headquarters confirmed upon request. In 2019, there were 451 calls, and 330 the year before. This list only includes the so-called ad hoc alerts. In addition, there are scheduled operations such as deportations or requests for investigations. On paper, the northern Giessen police station is responsible for the towns of Biebertal, Wettenberg, Lollar, Buseck and Staufenberg. But sometimes he and his officers do not have time to be there for weeks because all their officers are busy at Rödgener Street, one police officer complains. Both verbally and in writing, they have contacted their superiors about the catastrophic situation, but their efforts have come to nothing.
For some years now, more and more residents of the refugee centre have originated from the North African Maghreb countries, mostly young men. They cause much more problems and are much more prone to violence than the Syrians and Afghans who came in greater numbers in the years after 2015 and who are hardly more conspicuous in terms of criminal offences than their German peers, report Giessen police officers. New arrivals are regularly attacked and robbed, women are threatened with sexual assault. The facility’s security service is completely overburdened. Many crimes are committed under the influence of drugs, and disputes often involve their possession.
Internal police documents, quoted by the newspaper “Gießener Anzeiger”, show a frightening picture. In an incident report of January 13, for example, it says: “A 19-year-old Algerian asylum seeker was initially admitted to the Protestant hospital with a suspected wrist fracture. Here he resisted the treatment, so that the attending doctor informed the local police station. The person was calmed down on the spot, so that he was brought back to the HEAE (Hessian Initial Reception Centre, editor’s note), also because he was not wearing appropriate winter clothing. The patrol had not yet properly left the building when the 19-year-old had injured another resident in an argument using a scalpel stolen from the hospital. This time, the accused could no longer be calmed down, so that he had to be taken into custody to prevent further offences.