Just more than half of Germans say there are areas of the country where criminality is so rampant that law enforcement has little or no control there, according to a poll released yesterday by mass circulation newspaper Bild.
Around 51 per cent of respondents said so-called lawless areas, also known as "No-Go Zones" existed in Germany, while 41 per cent said they did not, according to the poll. Around 8 per cent were unsure whether they exist or not, or did not want to answer.
During the past two years, German news coverage has increasingly focused on the activities of Middle Eastern crime families in some of the country's major cities. Some say the problem has been exacerbated by the arrival of hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants into urban areas.
The poll showed more than three-quarters (77 per cent) of respondents saying that a stronger police crackdown on crime families would be desirable, with only 14 per cent saying that this would not be necessary. Nine per cent declined to respond.
New German Health Minister Jens Spahn, an outspokenly conservative member of Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats, recently criticized the police in an interview.
"Look at working-class neighborhoods in Essen, Duisburg or Berlin - you get the impression that the state is no longer willing or able to enforce the law there," Spahn said.