Germany relaxes police language rules

German Federal Police logo Image copyright Adam Berry/Getty Images
Image caption The Federal Police has to make up numbers fast

Germany is trying to overcome a shortfall in police numbers by relaxing the language and other requirements for new recruits.

The Bundespolizei federal police have to fill more than 2,000 additional posts this year, and have decided that being able to perform push-ups and standing long-jumps should no longer be essential, the Berliner Morgenpost newspaper reports.

It has also scrapped height requirements for both men and women in the "middle-grade" roles in question, which involve patrolling demonstrations, airports and railway stations, and carrying out checks at border points.

But would-be officers must now excel at the more practical skill of short "shuttle run" bursts of speed, and the requirements for a twelve-minute run and a swimming qualification remain.

No dumbing down

Sticklers should not worry too much about any dumbing down in the German-language exam, either. It still consists of a 180-word dictation test, but the police said they have "slightly increased" the number of mistakes permitted for potential recruits, in order "to enlarge the pool of applicants who can proceed to the next parts of the exam".

They have also posted dictation examples on their recruitment page for budding officers to hone their language skills.

This takes into account the fact that citizens of other European Union countries are eligible to join the German police, and that a growing proportion of applicants in Germany itself come from migrant backgrounds, Morgenpost points out.

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Jörg Radek, the GdP trade union official responsible for Federal Police officers, said the service has had to "adapt to social change in the younger generation both in terms of intellectual and physical requirements... and be prepared to offer more practical training in the field".

Professional coaches told Morgenpost that the army has also had to adapt to providing more sedentary representatives of "Generation Chill", as it's known in Germany, with more on-the-job training, and that too high an initial bar risks losing potentially useful recruits.

This is made more acute this year by the expected retirement of about 850 experienced officers, the Deutsche Welle news site adds.

But the Federal Police are not going to compromise on one key issue - officers must have no tattoos on their face, neck or hands, and all other must be covered up.

Image copyright Sean Gallup/Getty Images
Image caption The Federal Police patrol airports and railway stations

Reporting by Martin Morgan

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