This question is based on a story that happened a couple of days ago.

Two friends and I were walking outside. Right now, in Germany there are strict regulations about the number of persons and households that are allowed to meet together. So, as we were seen from a police car passing by, the car stopped and two officers went towards us.

One of us, a friend who didn't want any contact with the police, instantly ran away, which was seen by the officers. They didn't try to chase him. They then stopped us and started to ask questions about the friend who escaped. Seems like the fact of us gathering wasn't a problem at all, compared to the fact that one person escaped from them.

We told that we were just hanging around as friends, after which the officers asked if we could call our buddy and ask why he ran away and if he could get back. We told that his phone is dead, after which we should prove it to the police by calling him. After a failed call, police asked us to provide them the contact information, which we obviously had, because we tried to call him.

We were let go after police got our IDs but it just doesn't feel right that they tricked us to get the phone number of our friend who escaped. I understand that it was our own fault, that we responded to the question if we could call him, but could we just refuse to call him or answer any of their questions in that situation?

Were the officers even allowed to ask if we could call him or to ask us to show our phones to them, so they could get the contact information?

  • 5
    current mask ordinances are 5 people from 2 households. If you two are from different households and he is from neither of yours, there might be a harsh fine incoming for all three of you.
    – Trish
    Commented Dec 28, 2020 at 0:49
  • 11
    In most jurisdictions, not just Germany, police are allowed to ask a lot of things. The interesting question is not what they are allowed to ask, but which of those question ou are required to answer. But there is generally no problem with asking, except for a very specific limited set of protected things. Commented Dec 28, 2020 at 10:50
  • @Trish "A coupe of days ago", they might have legitimately been close family from different households (or some under the age of 14) Commented Dec 28, 2020 at 10:53
  • 1
    Close family is defined quite closely: parents (incl adopted), grandparents, siblings, spouses/life partners, children (incl. adopted), grandchildren, spouses of siblings. "Friends" is not on that list.
    – Trish
    Commented Dec 28, 2020 at 12:17
  • I do not see how anybody was tricked in any way. The friend ran away, which made the police person curious why he did that. Asking you to call him was a very legitimate and obvious thing to do. When you said he can not be called, he may have had the suspicion that could be a lie. It is not a trick to ask for his number in this situation. Commented Dec 28, 2020 at 18:27

1 Answer 1


From the German lawyer association ("Deutscher Anwaltverein") one can find the following (Google-translation):

In the case of a purely preventive identity check, the officers are initially only allowed to determine the identity of the respondent. This means that you can ask for your name, date and place of birth, home address and nationality and have your ID shown - by the way, as a German citizen you don't have to always have your ID with you.

"You don't have to answer any questions beyond that," says lawyer Robert Hotstegs from the German Lawyers' Association (DAV). Of course, police officers often try to gather more information with emphatically casual questions. "Well, where do we come from" or: "And where are we going now?" Are typical examples. The police are not allowed to insist on an answer. Anyone who, as a respondent, is voluntarily too willing to provide information can harm themselves and possibly even give rise to concrete suspicions.

So they are allowed to ask such things, but you don't need to answer everything.

How to handle such situations, again according to the link above:

“I recommend answering the survey as briefly and politely as possible. This has a de-escalating effect and helps to end the unpleasant situation as quickly as possible, ”says Attorney Hotstegs.

However, you should always answer the questions about yourself. Because if the police cannot determine the identity of a person or only with great effort, they may take further measures to determine the identity. This includes taking it to the police station and, under certain circumstances, a search. Otherwise, these measures are not permitted without a specific reason.

  • 8
    or in other words: you have to provide name and address, and if possible, ID. Nothing more. But under the current ordinances, that can be enough to indicate you have broken the ordinances.
    – Trish
    Commented Dec 28, 2020 at 0:51
  • Thank you very much for fast and helpful responses. Did I understood it correct, that I only have to provide information about myself, but don´t have to answer any of the questions about the escaped person, even if policemen clearly know that I own his contact information? Would´t there be a risk, that they could check our phones or take us to the station as a measurement to determine identity of the escaped person?
    – argss
    Commented Dec 28, 2020 at 1:03
  • 4
    @argss looking to the phone would be a search, which needs a warrant or suspicious activity (like, searching for a gun). You only have to identify yourself. Btw: German soldiers commit a crime if they tell anything more than name and PK (personal ID-number) if captured by enemy combatants. Police is decidedly not an enemy combatant, but they can not divulge military security information without allowance from their superiors... Similar postal service man not divulge information about who received mail without special allowance, as there is postal secrecy involved
    – Trish
    Commented Dec 28, 2020 at 9:37
  • @UweD They may have commited a Ordnungswidrigkeit by beeing together with three households. When investigating this, the police may have more competences. (I suspect they need a Vorladung for a obligation to answer, but the answer lacks explanations on that.)
    – K-HB
    Commented Dec 29, 2020 at 10:43

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