The fight against weapons crime plays a vital role. Even though offences committed by using firearms account for less than 1 % of all criminal offences, the qualitative threat potential is high considering the inherent danger to life and limb of potential victims.
The use of semi- and fully automatic weapons both in general crime and in terrorist attacks illustrates that the perpetrators have access to weapons.
Weapons are illegally traded both in the "analogue" and the digital world, especially in the darknet.
Darknet and illegal market places
The internet consists of three areas:
1. The surface web or visible web contains all internet content that has been or could be indexed by search engines such as Google.
2. The deep web is the opposite of the surface web. It is not indexed by search engines.
3. The dark web is a special part of the deep web. The dark web is based on darknets or networks where connections between trustworthy partners are set up. Examples for the dark web are The Onion Router (Tor), Freenet or the Invisible Internet Project (I2P). Special tools such as the Tor browser for the Tor network or special equipment such as the programme module FProxy for Freenet are needed to access this part of the internet.
The darknet is designed to provide its users with the highest possible degree of anonymity. As a result of their secretive and covert behaviour, users of market places and forums in the darknet do not only utilise anonymisation services. They also exclusively use pseudonyms (nicknames) when communicating with each other on the individual platforms. Real names are not exchanged so that the users also remain anonymous to each other.
A major part of the darknet consists of the so-called black markets which serve the purpose of trading in almost exclusively illegal goods (trading in narcotic drugs, weapons, counterfeit money, data, "crime-as-a-service"). The variety and volume of black markets on the internet are increasing.
All in all, the number of weapons that are offered on the platforms of the darknet is still significantly lower compared to the number of illegal narcotic drugs or counterfeit money, for instance. A relatively high number of fraudsters who only pretend to offer firearms or ammunition is also characteristic of the darknet.
The "Serious and Organised Crime" Division (SO) conducts investigations both at home and abroad to suppress weapons crime. Information on the phenomenon of weapons crime is collected and analysed there, and the results are shared with other police authorities at the national and international level. In addition, statistics and situation reports are prepared there and expert knowledge is provided in the context of legislative processes.