Sex Work Regulations in Germany

Prostitution and Police Powers in Berlin

Mercedes Wanne Polizei Berlin. Photo by Gunnar Richter

Parliamentary Enquiry about Prostitution and Police Powers

In late March, the Berlin Senate issued a reply to a parliamentary enquiry by Evrim Sommer (Left Party) about prostitution and police powers in Berlin.

The response contradicts claims made by anti-prostitution activists and some police representatives that the Prostitution Act of 2002 (ProstG) was hindering police investigations related to combating human trafficking. According to the Berlin Police, no such hindrance exists since the ProstG came into force.

The response also revealed the importance of confidence-building measures between the police and sex workers for the prosecution of offenders and the number of controls and reported cases of sexual exploitation in Berlin.

Read the full text below or click here to download the response of the Berlin Parliament as PDF document. This resource is in English. Click here to download the German original.

Small Enquiry

BERLIN House of Representatives
File 17/12 941 | 17th Parliamentary Term

Small Enquiry by Evrim Sommer, Member of the Berlin House of Representatives (Left Party)
from December 5th (Received December 9th, 2013) and Answer

Prostitution and Police Powers

On behalf of the Senate, I reply to your Small Enquiry as follows:

1. What has changed for the Berlin Police after the Prostitution Act came into effect, what trainings are provided to deal with prostitution, and how are they being utilised?

Answer: The Act Regulating the Legal Situation of Prostitutes (ProstG) from December 20th, 2001, aimed primarily at the strengthening of the social and legal protection of prostitutes. In its final report for a research project on the impact of the Prostitution Act, the Social Scientific Women’s Research Institute of the Protestant University of Applied Sciences (SoFFI K.) concluded that to date, the impact has not been very extensive and is hardly noticeable for the target group of prostitutes. (Retrievable here)

According to the Berlin Police, investigations related to combating human trafficking were not hindered following the entry into force of the Prostitution Act. At the federal level, there are plans to comprehensively revise the Prostitution Act to improve legal provisions regarding the regulation of prostitution and the means of control by the authorities. Trainings to deal with prostitution are provided by the special commissariats of the State Criminal Police Office (LKA) as well as in collaboration with counselling centres, and they are met with a lively response.

2. On what legal basis and for which reasons are brothels and prostitutes in Berlin controlled by the police?

Answer: Prostitution is neither illegal nor immoral. The object of police activities is not prostitution itself but the adverse effects and disturbances of public security and order, especially where associated crimes are concerned. Of particular importance here is the fight against human trafficking.

Since human trafficking represents a control-related offence and since the main goals are the early identification of potential victims of human trafficking as well as their rescue from forced prostitution and/or sexual exploitation, the State Criminal Police Office is for years now successfully practicing an integrated concept in close collaboration with other authorities and counselling centres.

The special commissariats at the LKA 42 carry out routine and warranted controls and patrol all areas of prostitution on the basis of the General Security and Public Order Act (ASOG Berlin). Apart from identity checks, every contact between the police and prostitutes is used to conduct confidence-building talks to provide advice and information as well as to point out counselling centres. Prostitutes are given advice on how to protect themselves from violent pimps and punters. In addition, business cards with details are handed out to allow prostitutes to establish contact as quickly as possible and to provide police support if necessary. Moreover, the LKA’s Department 42 is on-call all year round.

Furthermore, in its fight against human trafficking, the police is following a multidisciplinary approach and cooperates with counselling centres that provide psychosocial support for concerned individuals. The principles of this collaboration are governed by the cooperation agreement between the Police Superintendent of Berlin and the sponsors of the counselling centres. Through that, an image of the Berlin Police as a competent point of contact is conveyed to prostitutes. As a result, there’s a high level of willingness among prostitutes to cooperate with the police, which is essential for the prosecution.

Moreover, in accordance with the Code of Criminal Procedure (StPO), offender-oriented repressive measures are conducted to combat crimes of violence and exploitation in prostitution. The conviction of significant offenders brings about a long-term weakening of the scene and has a positive effect on the willingness of victims to testify.

3. Which departments of the police are dealing with this and which offences are being prioritised?

Answer: The controls are primarily carried out by the LKA’s Department 42. In addition, controls are conducted by the respective local authorities within the scope of their regional responsibilities. The focus of these measures is placed on the offences “human trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation”, “pimping”, “sexual abuse of youth”, “sexual abuse of children”, and more generally, violent offences closely related to the practice of prostitution.

4. In what form and by what means are such controls and raids carried out?

Answer: The spectrum of the form and means of operations in the field of prostitution ranges from controls by the special commissariats to larger police interventions, depending on the respective case.

5. How many controls were carried out over the past three years and which criminal offences were detected?

Answer: Over the past three years, controls were carried out in all areas of prostitution in Berlin:

2012 -687-
2011 -822-
2010 -350-

The findings obtained through these inspections formed one of the bases for the reported cases of human trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation in Berlin’s Police Crime Statistics:

2012 -65-
2011 -73-
2010 -66-.

Berlin, March 26th, 2014

On behalf of
Bernd Krömer
Senatorial Administration for Interior Affairs and Sports
(Received at the Berlin House of Representatives March 28th, 2014)

Translation by Matthias Lehmann. Research Project Germany.

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