Straßensozialarbeit in Berlin

Relationship of social work and the police


Social work and police approach one another. But who does thereby in daily practice the larger steps?

1. The overall social problem

In youth work as well as in the police the discussion of the relationship to each other is increasing tremendously. The discussion clarifies both the stress ratio and the initiating dialogue ibetween street workers and the policemen. In this process, which is full of demarcation and mutual distrust up to the extend of common development of dialogue models.We were and are always conscious of the approach and its risks.

The necessary demarcation of goals, approaches and the social order of both professional groups is overlaid by public demand to the fight against violence, right-wing extremism and criminality.
The following remarks are made as a result of an expert hearing without knowing the youth-political context and show how undifferentiated social educational regards as well as police prevention are mixed up:
„The pacification of social deprived areas through a determined mixture of prevention and repression is the common goal of the practice of the police and social work.“
Furthermore the permanent representative of the police force department of Saxony (Sachsen) expresses his regrets at the trade conference “Youths-Help-Police” in Nürnberg as follows: „It is unfortunate that a conference like this is necessary is. Cooperation to wellfare of children, youths and society altogether should be a matter of course to all,….“ Questions about cooperation, information exchange… are being asked. A common term clarifying however did not take place till now:
Students of social work call for the risign of police from any type of prevention. The police calls for data verification from social work and an “anonymously“ confirm of a “hot trace” – does the offender participate in the three sited?“.

2. The historical problem
Attempts of a certain cooperation precede in 1979 at the high point of the refusal against police projects in Munich. The Frankfurt street workers refuse the acceptance of this model an reject the officials massively as “police spies” in 1976. In other cities it comes to similar conflict situations. 1979 furnish police headquarters in Hanover in a police station “the prevention program police/social worker (PPS)”.
The facility, which exists till date, it’s hardly being accepted neither by the new “clientele” (culpable youths),nor by the social workers, since both of them are afraid of the proximity to the police. The project is supervised by the ministry of the Interior, understands itself today rather as a project with victim-oriented approach, supporting short-time care in critical situations (crisis emergency service).
It came to a country wide meeting of initiatives and to actions against the facility of „youth police “ in 1979. On the trade conference „Street work in the Federal Republic and in Berlin“ in the house at the Rupenhorn in 1979 a final speech was held against the introduction of the youth police and in the appendix the resolution of the colleagues from Baden-Wuerttemberg was attached.
„Not only for the youths is the use of Jupos (Youth-Police) threatening – through continuous observation of youths meetings and youth clubs also uninvolved youths will be monitored -, as well as the work of the work of the social workers will be questioned. Even youth workers become objects of police control, when the control is carried out through permanent presence of the police. Youth workers have to fight the increasing distrust of the youths. The Youths themselves have difficulties to differentiate between youth policemen and a street- workers.”
In 1985 a meeting organised by the land-youth-office Rheinland took place, in which the team „Street work – a common request of police and social work“ met. In the prefaces according to the view of the police as well as of the social work it is emphasized that due to different tasks, objective and expectation attitude, no common working group protocols should be made.
Beside a number of well-known reservations and mutual demands on the part of the police a demand is set up, which is raised later by the police whenever it concerns to refer to the inadequacy from social educational prevention and social work.
„It is an age-old request of the policemen, that social workers find themselves only at places, where endangered and delinquent youths are and this also at times outside the normal office hours. It cannot remain in the interest of recent clientele in such a way that only the police is prsent 365 days a year and 24 hours a day.”
Social work recognizes that street work does not take place in a free-repression area and police a part of the environment especially for of the youths, whose relations world the street is.
In 1989 Berlin police created the “AG group violence” and favourised the concept of “police youth work”. Parallel to the central “AG group violence” criminal police investigation groups against juvenile delinquencies were build up to carry out duties all over Berlin not only in a particular district as before. In 1991 another additional group “operative delinquent youth group” (OGJ) was built. This later succeeded create contact and respect with Turkish and German youths in their estimation. Street work in Berlin withdraws itself consistently and for the purpose of defining the own strategy from all dialogue levels. A work meeting in the summer 1991, organized by the sport youth Berlin, is boycotted: „Tragic victims” of this boycott are the uninformed and on ABM basis the east Berlin working street workers.

3. The theoretical problem
The often quoted common ground of street work and police is often defined as “common interests” or as “common social task”. Is this really true? Or does our common ground consists meeting the same people? Do we acually have concerning our target group actually have the same goals.
1. Is the common basis of social and police work danger prevention? If you reduce social work to the multiplicity of the protection obligations of the KJHG (child and youth services act), you will be rapidly near the definition of danger prevention as prevention of encroachments against protection-order, criminal offences etc.. Both contentwise as well as methodically, social work defines itself not at first nor finally (only mediated) over the prevention of dangers, but mainly with the improvement of the life situation of young humans. Social work defines itself over it’s own job order. Life perspective is not only the absence of criminality.
„Street social work must make clearly in the public that the objectives of street work are deduced from the interest of the youths, not however one-sided from the interests of the political-orders of the police and administration. Furthermore it makes clear that the reduction of juvenile delinquencies should not be exclusively goal of the work, but an effective support of deliquesced youths can only be reached by generally improving on their living conditions.
2. Already at this point of view “an overall strategy of violence prevention (SPI)” is to be analysed. Does social work define itself superficial on the overall strategy of violence prevention, it comes automatically on the defensive with the police. In this area the police will always show “better results”.
In addition, if terms blur like police and socio-educational prevention and control function, then it can happen as in the course of the conference about “course prevention program of the city Long Beach/L.A.”: Requests about tightening of the youth criminal law are being forwarded by the youths and two thirds of all the social workers, instead of complaining to the municipal office about the re-opening of the only present youth club.

4. The executive problem
Also in the program of the trade conference: Youth-Help-Police (Nuernberg /Januar 1996), the talk of “constructionalco-operation” wasn’t completely a coincidence as well as of the “social work of the police“. (The logical reversal of this topic would by the way be called “police work of the street worker “…).
The prevention program police/social worker (PPS) of Hannover has its agency for emergency aid in case of crisis intervention and short time support in the police office. This entitles a fast non-bureaucratic emergency aid, which takes place in this case incooperation with the police, which however requires neither an employment relationship with the police nor the supervisory board of the ministry of the Interior. Even if questions of the professional secrecy, anonymity and confidence protection are ensured, it cannot be justified with the fact why the police tasks should take over the youth work and youth welfare services.
A representetive of the bavarian criminal investigation department (Munich) stated “the failure of independent youth work by the police. On the other hand threatens the deputy of the chief constable in Sachsonia that the police may take over functions of social work – Sachsony strives for the most repressiv police-act of all german federal states (Länder – “police may take over, if youth work and youth welfare services don’t fulfill their duty”.

Remarcs to the most advanced question within the framework this Nürnberg-conference “social workers at the police?”:
Yes, as far as it’s necessary for the promotion of problem consciousness, qualification of policemen in social questions as well as for basic and advanced training.
Provisionally no, as far as it concerns youth and a social work of the police. But corresponding considerations could adjust themselves at given time, if:
– youth work and youth welfare services its public order not sufficiently fulfill, –
– cooperation between youth work and youth welfare services and other branches
(including police) not sufficiently take place and/or
– accessibility by youth work and youth welfare services outside of the usual office hours (at night, weekends, holidays) is not given“

5. The material-technical problem (resources problem)
Considering the financial shortages in the youth work, the so-called „reorganisation of the welfare state“ you can’t avoid to take note of this remark as a remark to mark possible future prospects of the representative from Saxony, who found a new voting home for his self by the course of the “German-German Transfer.”
In Berlin the police has approx. 30-times more staff in comparison to the youth work and can thus work surface covering and in the three shift system. They are equipped with most modern technology, modern communication and information systems, fast service vehicles and particularly equipped with “permanent jobs”. (Is there one federal state in the whole rebublik where co-workers, employees and the officials of the police can be copared with the youth work and youth welfare services of Thueringen with over 50% (internal statements up to 70%) ABM-, LKZ – and fee places? Thus becomes a material problem a contentwise problem!

6. The criminal-legal problem
The police is subject to the legality principle, i.e. the staff is subject to a strict order for prosecution; their responsibility for young humans ends with the delivery to the public prosecutor. The police is clearly hierarchical and built up on the basis of command authority. It is oriented to clearly structured fields and possesses no room to move for alternatives (principle of opportunity only in the context of irregularities).
The police is almost equipped with all conceivable rights, not only the right of opportunism. On the other hand reminds the non-acknowledgement of the right to refuse to give evidence for street workers rather than a relict from the past. Street work can only call for a professional pledge of secrecy and/or rely to receive as employees in the public service from their employer the permission to refuse to give evidence. In particular within this range we have to find out, there is a gradient downward concerning resources an esources and authority!

7. The political-institutional problem
How irrelevant our dialogue for the everyday life work of the police and for the instructions of political decision makers is, we were noticed the 25.01.1996, the day of the constitution of the senate of Berlin. Social workers together with children and youths have demonstrated once again against the radical welfare reductions. The disproportionateness and threatens of the police allow no doubt to realise that the acceptance of the social work exists only on the paper, but not in the heads of the policemen. And the crews patrolling transmitted basically instructions out…
Statement of a policeman within five minutes: To four street workers “if you continue to argue here, we will have to regard you people as offenders…”
To me, in private: “You know nevertheless, that’s not us. It doesn’t always fit to me. That here is nevertheless a good thing”.

8. The institutional problem
To an equal dialogue doesn’t belong only the confession to acceptance of the respective profession, but rather functional and politically founded organization will on crucial leading and/or authority level.
Representatives of the “common functional commission youth work and youth welfare services, police and justice” Hamburg report that equal dialogue and cooperation at the basis make sense only, if they find their correspondence on the institutional level. Institutionalizing of an equal dialogue and/or cooperation does not mean making hierarchies on the basis of leadership, decision, control and evaluation processes. (That Hamburg models speaks therefore of a dialogue on equal, trusting and personal basis, because the parties are quite conscious of the possibility of a position and a trench combat.)

9. The concrete-specific problem
“These time-consuming seminars! Dialogue makes sense only if it’s topic, target group and situation-referred.” (Work meeting Bremen, February 96)

10. The problem of transparency
– “Each contact has to be transparently to the youths” (see statistics trade conference Berlin, 1995, appendix of 2 chapters 6)
– “we don’t also say that to all youths, that they’re weekly policemen in civilian clothes present” (statement of a woman employee project „Kick “ the Berlin sport youths).

11. The problem of evaluation
The first social projects of the police exists and some protagonists calculate already the criteria of effectiveness and rationalisation within the structure of the police apparatus according to an appropriate approach of prevention.
It’s not to be feared with already existing projects, that social work is being evaluated by an executive, which takes the effectiveness of their means and the methods for criterion evaluation?
We shouldn’t make the error to forget this imbalance. No dialogue with the police is actually equal.
Nevertheless: How little the strong repression on the social causes of violence and punishment changes, policemen strated to discuss about this frequently. In this context a dialogue seems meaningful. Fast embraces however are out of place.
As a colleague reported recently, these paragraphs can be summarized easily in a legal text in future. First “model projects” are started already e.g. in the Ruhr district: during the interviews with applicants for the fan Project, a police officer is part of the application committee. Why? Perhaps as future specialized supervision? e.g. in Sachsen-Anhalt: the street workers are assigned directly to the Ministry for Interior. This simplifies many things. Finally things like information ways and assumption conditions are being clearly defined from the beginning…
The practice relevance of the results of our arguments, will need many years, if at all.