Fact Check: NO Evidence 'No-Go' Crime Zones Are Proliferating Across Hungary

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  • szerzõ: Lead Stories
Fact Check: NO Evidence 'No-Go' Crime Zones Are Proliferating Across Hungary Crime Dropping

Are "no-go zones," areas so crime-ridden that even the police dare not enter them, spreading across Hungary? No, there is no evidence to support this claim: Official statistics show that violent crime rates in Hungary dropped dramatically between 2011 and 2022, and total offense rates in Hungary's highest-crime regions were minuscule compared to rates in many European countries in recent years. Moreover, Hungarian Interior Minister Sándor Pintér has denied that "no-go zones" exist.

The claim appeared in a Hungarian-language video (archived here) on TikTok on August 8, 2023, on an account belonging to Dóra Dúró, vice-president of the ultranationalist Mi Hazánk (Our Homeland) party. The text read:

No-go zones are spreading across the country! Only Mi Hazánk demands order and a gendarmerie! (All translations by Lead Stories.)

The gendarmerie, or csendőrség, was an elite law-enforcement unit that helped Nazi Germany round up Hungarian Jews for deportation to concentration camps during World War II. Hungary's government dissolved it in 1945.

This is what the post looked like on TikTok at the time of writing:

(Source: TikTok screenshot taken on Fri Aug 11 07:29:43 2023 UTC)

Mi Hazánk applies the "no-go zone" concept to areas of Hungary with high numbers of Roma (Gypsy) residents. At the 11:23 mark of a video of a panel discussion that took place on July 28, 2022, senior party member János Lántos said:

Everybody knows that these no-go zones are decisively made up of people of Gypsy origin... Indeed, there is no sense in separating no-go zones from Gypsy crime. They are practically one and the same.

While lawlessness certainly exists in Hungary, statistics refute the claim that violent crime is proliferating. Hungary recorded 89 murders in 2022, down from 142 in 2011 -- a 37 percent decline, according to Hungary's Central Statistical Office (KSH). Over the same period, physical assaults fell 52 percent from 14,241 to 6,901, while total crime, including nonviolent offenses, plummeted 63 percent from 451,371 to 167,774 incidents, KSH statistics show.

It is accurate that violence against public officials rose from 564 registered incidents in 2019 to 904 in 2022, an increase of 60 percent, according to the KSH. However, Hungarian Interior Minister Sándor Pintér, who oversees the country's police force, has denied that there are any places where officers dare not tread. In his testimony before Parliament's National Security Committee on September 29, 2020, Pintér said:

In Hungary, public order and public security is solid, balanced, and free from extremism. There are no critical districts, settlements or neighborhoods, and there are no no-go zones in Hungary. Even by international comparison, we can say that Hungary's performance in this area is outstanding.

Statistics bear out Pintér's assertion that Hungary's crime rate is lower than other countries, even in the places with the most violations. The four regions of Hungary with the highest number of overall crimes in the year leading up to July 15, 2023, were Budapest (1,807), Heves County (1,443), Nógrad County (1,390), and Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén County (1,336), according to the National Police Headquarters' website. That implies a rate of 103 per 100,000 inhabitants in Budapest, 492 in Heves, 739 in Nógrad, and 210 in Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén. (Rate calculations by Lead Stories, using KSH population data for 2020 and an online crime-rate calculator.)

In Bavaria, the German state with the lowest level of lawlessness, the overall crime rate was 4,698 per 100,000 population in 2022, according to data compiled by Statista.com. The comparable rate in Sweden was 13,803 in 2022; in Belgium, it was 7,522 in 2021, Statista's data shows.

The belief that "no-go zones" exist in Hungary can prove deadly. In January 2020, ambulance workers refused to enter the Roma-majority village of Csenyéte without a police escort, delaying help for a man who had fallen unconscious, according to news portal Index.hu. Neighbors ultimately carried the man to the village border where the ambulance was waiting -- but it was too late to save his life, Index said.

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