Freibad staff request police patrols at Germany's outdoor pools
The German Association of Swimming Pool Supervisors has called for a stronger police presence at outdoor pools to help remedy the trend of poolside fights breaking out in the summer heat.
Calls for police presence at Germany’s outdoor pools
Over the past few years the frequency of so-called “heat days” - days over 30 degrees - has risen in Germany, and so too has the number of fights breaking out at open-air pools (Freibäder) across the country.
Summer 2023 has only recently arrived and already a number of incidents have occurred. This week, police cleared and shut down a swimming pool in Berlin after a fight broke out on a slide, and last week a 24-year-old suffered knife injuries after a fight involving 40 people broke out in Mannheim, Baden-Württemberg.
Now, Germany’s Federal Association of Swimming Pool Supervisors (Bademeister) has called for a stronger police presence at outdoor swimming pools to help with the problem. “We are experiencing increasing aggression and disrespect at the pools,” Association President Peter Harzheim told the Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung. Harzheim says that police should include swimming pools in their patrols to make sure that bathers know that “law and order apply here too”.
What is causing Germany’s bather brawls?
Though there is no official data to determine whether violence at open-air swimming pools is on the rise, media reporting on the subject has been widespread in the last few years. With this reporting comes a number of speculations as to what is causing regular brawls.
Heat, alcohol and machismo have all been cited. It has long been thought that hot weather shortens people’s temper and makes violent behaviour more likely. Another hypothesis is that, because our testosterone levels are increased in hot weather, we become more aggressive in the heat.
According to Bademeister Harzheim, machismo is to blame: “A macho culture has spread in many cities that does not abide by rules - you can see that in order pools.”
Many in the German media claim that “social hotspots” or “clans” are to blame for the aggression, though some say these suggestions are instead a racist dog whistle, since both terms are code words for immigrant groups or people with migrant backgrounds.
Police say more bathers should get Hausverbot
Despite Harzheim’s plea, Chairperson of Germany’s Police Union (GdP) Jochen Kopelke told RND that the police force had no intention to regularly patrol Freibäder. “The police will provide support, but there will be no patrols at the edge of the pool,” Kopelke clarified.
The police officer stressed that the responsibility to manage bathers’ behaviour remains with staff at the pool and that preventative measures should be taken to minimise the number of fights. “Admission controls should become stricter,” said Kopelke, adding that bans should be issued for a longer period if bathers break the rules.
Thumb image credit: Tilman Ehrcke / Shutterstock.com