Last year, 1,800 people seeking asylum in Denmark were charged with a crime. That number is equal to 25 percent of the total number of asylum seekers and has more than doubled since 2007. The number seeking asylum has also increased, and at a faster rate than those that are getting in trouble with the law.
The national police department, Rigspolitiet, said that the numbers were not disproportionate.
“Developments in the amount of crime committed by asylum seekers corresponds to the total number of asylum seekers,” said the police in an email statement to Berlingske newspaper.
The police said that crimes committed by asylum seekers are most often shoplifting, pick-pocketing, receiving stolen property, forgery and violation of immigration laws.
“Serious crimes are rare,” wrote the police.
A growing problem
A spokesperson for opposition party Dansk Folkeparti (DF) said that the rise in crime reveals that some asylum seekers come here specifically to exploit the system.
“It confirms what we already assumed,” DF spokesperson Martin Henriksen told Berlingske. “The problem of criminals seeking asylum is growing.”
Konservative spokesperson Tom Behnke said that police need to clamp down on the criminals.
"The laws must be straightforward and consistent and make sure that criminals are thrown out of the country as soon as possible," Behnke told Berlingske.
Justice minister Karen Hækkerup said that the percentage of asylum seekers committing crimes is actually falling, but that the government intends to continue putting pressure on “criminal punks”.
Anne la Cour from the Red Cross, which operates the majority of the Danish asylum centres, said that despite police warnings about groups of Eastern Europeans seeking asylum in order to commit crimes, they could not at this time confirm the existence of such gangs.