In North Rhine-Westphalia, the Aachen Administrative Court has ruled in summary proceedings that the application of an interested person for training in the police civil service must at least be re-examined (case reference: 1 L 832/23). This is because the Land’s assessment that a specific tattoo on the applicant’s forearm – showing a handshake with one hand replaced by a snake’s head biting the other hand – cast doubt on his suitability did not stand up to legal scrutiny.
It is true that tattoos could in principle justify doubts that would preclude employment. According to the administrative court judges, this was particularly the case if the tattoos, which were highly symbolic, expressed an anti-constitutional attitude. If a tattoo does not have an unambiguous interpretative content that calls into question the principles of the free democratic basic order, there must be further indications to conclude from the specifically chosen motif that the applicant has an attitude that raises doubts about his or her suitability, e.g. that glorifies violence. In the present case, however, such evidence had neither been presented by the Land North Rhine-Westphalia nor had it been recognisable to the court, it was said.