Authorities in a district of rural Germany covered up a long list list of asylum seeker crimes including rape, assault, and child sex abuse so as not to "stir up prejudice", it has been alleged.
Internal police figures revealed 117 criminal offences took place at refugee housing in Boostedt, northern Germany, during the last three months, and that third world migrants housed in other accommodation in the municipality were listed as suspects in a further 23 crimes.
But officers neglected to announce the incidents after orders from the Interior Ministry instructed police that "active" notifications from the force's press office on potential migrant involvement in crimes would be "irresponsible", and likely to "stir up prejudice", local media reports.
According to the regional daily, Lübecker Nachrichten, none of the offences in question were immigration-related, and instead the "long list of crimes" consisted of assaults - some of which were carried out with weapons, rape, threats, property damage, and theft, along with a number of "particularly serious" cases including the reported sexual abuse of a nine-year-old girl in February.
Boostedt has seen crime rise since the advent of the migrant crisis in 2015, with the 4,600 population municipality hosting 1,369 asylum seekers as of January 2019.
The number of offences carried out at migrant accommodation has more than doubled almost every year since Chancellor Angela Merkel opened the German borders, with 343 crimes recorded last year - up from 33 in 2015 to 69 the following year, then to 126 in 2017.
Amongst the total number of crimes recorded last year were two cases of murder or manslaughter, two incidents involving "crimes against life", and four recorded sex offences, in addition to 28 drugs-related crimes and 61 incidents of theft.
In the town of Boostedt itself, crime surged almost 75 per cent in the last year, with the number of offences rising from 207 to 360, according to the Hamburger Abendblatt, which reports that the number of thefts "skyrocketed" from 68 to 167 over the period.
Ahead of Interior Minister Hans Joachim Grote's presentation of last year's crime statistics for the state of Schleswig-Holstein, in which Boostedt is located, a spokesman for the politician - who belongs to Merkel's nominally centre-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU) - admitted crime had risen in the municipality but alleged that the incidents were not made public due to a lack of reliable evidence.
The police headquarters in Bad Segeberg, which is responsible for policing in the region, has put out 217 press releases since December, however not one of these concerned any of the crimes reported in Boostedt, according to local media.
Since the beginning of the migrant crisis, German authorities have been dogged on several occasions by accusations that police forces in the country had been ordered to downplay or cover up crimes committed by newcomers.
In Thuringia for example, regional media outlets reported that officers were instructed not to produce press releases in the case of crimes carried out at asylum centres.
Police union representatives who described a situation in which officers were called out to "every refugee shelter, almost every day", complained that migrant crime was being "systematically concealed", however the state's far-left premier, Bodo Ramelow, denied the allegations.