Filing a police report
Below, I can find simple descriptions of relevant crimes which I can report to the police.
- Insults are statements made in words, images, writing or gestures that show little or no respect to me. I am degraded as a person or depicted as inferior, my personal honour is attacked.
- Malicious gossip means the assertion or dissemination to third parties of facts which are not demonstrably true and which are intended to belittle or degrade me. Defamation goes one step further than malicious gossip, in that demonstrably untrue facts about me are knowingly asserted or disseminated. Similarly to insults, malicious gossip and defamation constitute an attack on my personal honour with respect to third parties.
- Threats constitute a crime of endangerment where I or persons close to me are threatened with a crime against my/our sexual self-determination, bodily integrity, personal freedom or property that has significant value. Threats may be made directly (i.e. face-to-face), by letter, over the phone, online or via social media.
- Extortion means that someone compels me, by violence or threat of serious harm, to do, acquiesce to or refrain from an act, thereby unlawfully enriching themselves or a third party at the expense of my or another’s assets. Attempted extortion is also a criminal offence.
- Bodily harm means that I am physically abused or harm is caused to my health. Attempted bodily harm is also a criminal offence.
- Offences against sexual self-determination include, among other things, a range of criminal acts, such as sexual assault, sexual coercion and rape. In other words, sexual acts are performed on me against my will or I am caused to perform sexual acts. Stealthing is a particular form of abuse, in which a sexual partner removes or damages the condom before sexual intercourse without my consent.
- Criminal damage means that an object belonging to me is damaged or destroyed, or its appearance is altered substantially and permanently. Attempted criminal damage is also a criminal offence.
- Stalking means that someone pursues me in a manner intended to not insignificantly restrict my lifestyle, e.g. by repeatedly following, calling, harassing or threatening me.
Any criminal offence may be categorised as a hate crime or a politically motivated crime if it is clearly committed because of a prejudicial attitude towards a specific group and if it is related to me being LGBTIQ+, for example. The crimes listed here may be committed by known or unknown perpetrators.
Many crimes are committed in public spaces.
I can find information on what to be aware of in case of emergency here
Many crimes can also be committed via the internet.
I can find information on what to do in case of crimes and hate on the internet here
Violence can also occur in relationships – this is described as domestic abuse. Domestic abuse covers all instances of physical and psychological violence within a partnership (married or unmarried). This includes, in particular, coercion, threats and bodily injury, even if these crimes are committed after a separation but are still directly related to the previous partnership. That means that domestic abuse does not directly cover all instances of violence in the family, but only violence committed by an (ex) partner. The German Act on Domestic Abuse (Gewaltschutzgesetz) protects victims of domestic abuse, primarily by allowing them to live in their shared home without having to share it with the person committing the violence. Reporting an (ex) partner can be incredibly difficult. It is advisable to get in touch with a help centre for advice and support.
I will find a list of organisations offering support here
I will find information on the Forensic Medical Examination Centre for Victims of Domestic Abuse at the Institute of Legal Medicine, LMU Munich here
In principle, anyone can file a police report free of charge. If I have been the victim of a crime or I have witnessed a crime, I can report this to the police, a public prosecutor or a district court. I can file a police report even if I do not know the person I am reporting. Filing a police report triggers a police investigation. Filing a report directly with the police is therefore a good way of speeding up the investigation. Generally speaking, a police report cannot be withdrawn. As soon as the police learn of a crime, they have to act.
I can find more information for witnesses here
I can file a police report orally with the police or in writing by post. An oral police report will be taken down for police records. I can file a police report myself or get a legal professional to do this for me. Of the crimes listed above, the only ones that can be reported online in Bavaria are criminal damage against a vehicle or bicycle. It has recently become possible to report hate on the internet online thanks to the partnership between REspect! and the Government of Bavaria (and therefore also the Bavarian Police). Authors of criminal hate speech are consistently reported by REspect!
I can find a list of police stations in Munich, with addresses and telephone numbers here
I can find information on what to do in case of crimes and hate on the internet here
Generally speaking, it is possible to file a police report anonymously. That is because the police have to follow up on matters relating to a criminal case even if they are reported anonymously. It is worth noting that crimes that are reported anonymously have a much lower clearance rate. Witnesses, on the other hand, must provide their personal details to the police officers who they are being interviewed by. However, in legitimate cases, it may be possible for witnesses to be given protection later on, e.g. protecting their home address.
I can find information for witnesses here
I should file a police report as quickly as possible. That way, the police have the best chances of gathering evidence and solving the case. I can still file a police report days, weeks or even months after the incident. For some crimes, e.g. insults, I have to file a police report and also a written criminal complaint which is valid for three months after the suspect is notified. In such case, the police will usually inform me that I have to file a criminal complaint in addition to the police report.
When I am filing a report, it is important to tell the authorities, such as the police, clearly and without being asked whether the crime may have been committed because of anti-LGBTIQ+ hate, meaning it constitutes a hate crime. When giving a witness statement as part of the reporting process, I should make sure that this is taken down word for word, or ask for the statement to be revised before signing. I can bring along a person I trust at any time or contact a support organisation or legal counsel beforehand. Additionally, each police station has a civil servant who can help with the issue of legal protections. If I wrote down a list of things that happened as I remember them after the incident, I can use this list when filing my report. I can also present any evidence I have gathered. When filing a report, I will ask for the case number in case I have any follow-up questions.
I can find information on gathering evidence here
Important: The police will record anything they learn about that is relevant to the criminal case. I will not simply be turned away. If I feel uncomfortable having other people in the room with me, I can ask to make my report in a safe space.
When I am filing a police report, the police may ask me for various pieces of information regarding the circumstances of the incident and what happened. I can prepare for filing a police report by answering the following questions beforehand:
- What happened?
I will state which of the crimes listed above has been or could have been committed. I will provide information on (criminal) damages or injuries.
- When did it happen?
I will state the time when the incident occurred as accurately as possible.
- Where did it happen?
I will provide information on the location of the incident. If I do not know the address, I will try to describe the scene as accurately as possible.
- Who did it happen to?
Did the crime relate to other people as well or were other people involved in the incident? Who observed or could have observed the events? I will provide the names of witnesses and information on how to reach them as far as possible.
- Why did it happen?
I will describe the circumstances that led to the incident and what events prior to this may be relevant. Was the perpetrator’s/perpetrators’ attack motivated by anti-LGBTIQ+ hate? If I know the perpetrator or perpetrators, I will provide their personal details. If I do not know the perpetrator(s), I will prepare so that I can give as accurate a description of them as possible.
- How did it happen?
I will describe the events as accurately as possible, sticking to the timeline as far as possible. I will describe how the persons involved behaved before and after the incident. In the case of physical violence, I will state whether weapons or other items were used. Repeating what was said between the persons involved, especially any discriminatory statements, is also important for clarifying the motive of the perpetrator(s).
Once I have filed a report, the police will begin their investigation. The police will present the findings of their investigation to the public prosecutor who will then decide whether the police should investigate the case further, or whether to press charges against the defendant or to suspend proceedings. I will be notified in writing if proceedings are suspended.
As well as filing a report with the police, I can also report LGBTIQ+ hate crimes via special platforms. Doing this will help to combat the under-reporting of hate crimes and will make needs visible.
I can find more information on this here
People react differently to experiences of crime. Some people take action right away, while others tend to withdraw and try to get their thoughts in order first and to process what they have experienced. Some people might not even realise what happened until later but it’s never too late to take action.
People who have experienced domestic abuse and sexual violence are particularly reluctant to file police reports.
Counselling services from the community and beyond can help me to categorise crimes and to work out a good way for dealing with them and what to do next.
I can get help and support here
I can learn why it’s important to report crimes here