Friday, June 30, 2017

Sweden Out of Control

5,000 criminals in Sweden's vulnerable areas: police, by Emma Löfgren, 6/21/17,

Sweden's national police chief has presented a new report about the country's problem areas, increasing the number of districts classified as vulnerable or especially vulnerable.

The report, which is likely to grab headlines in Sweden and abroad, follows another high-profile report from 2015 which listed 53 so-called vulnerable areas, including 15 considered especially vulnerable.

In the new report, 61 areas are now on the list, of which 23 are considered especially vulnerable, 6 are risk areas (areas that are at high risk of becoming especially vulnerable) and 32 are vulnerable.

Some of these were revealed last week, but the full version was presented today.

The term "no-go zone" famously caught on in some international media back in 2015 after it was used by a Swedish newspaper columnist to label these areas, but it has been strongly rejected by police and emergency services themselves.

The police definition describe these districts as socio-economically vulnerable areas with a generally high crime rate. In an especially vulnerable area there are also often parallel societal structures, religious extremism and police regularly have to adapt their methods to the volatile situation. Residents also often do not report crimes, either out of fear of retaliation or because they think it will not lead to anything.

In an opinion piece published by the Dagens Nyheter (DN) newspaper ahead of the presentation of the report on Wednesday, national police chiefs Dan Eliasson and Mats Löfving write that around 5,000 criminals and 200 criminal networks are believed to be based in these 61 vulnerable areas.

But the number of criminals risks increasing, they write. “Sweden needs national and long-term efforts to turn things around. We will now intensify our dialogue with relevant social actors and ensure that we together create action plans for all these 61 areas. The police cannot solve the situation in the vulnerable areas alone, but together with the joint efforts of society we can make a big difference.”

There are several reasons behind why the number of areas has gone up since the last report. In some areas, the situation has deteriorated, but the main reason is that the police have refined their data collection methods and have a better picture of the situation today, write Eliasson and Löfving.

In some areas, they add, the police have managed to improve the situation, by allocating extra officers to those areas and installing surveillance cameras to crack down on open drug and weapon trade.

"In one area it may have got worse, in another better, even though it's not visible in the statistics," Eliasson said at a press conference on Wednesday.

He repeated that the police would not be able to solve the situation on their own.

"Other societal actors, help us, help us," he said.

One of the areas that may be on the right path is Seved in Malmö, with a local police officer telling The Local earlier this month that it could potentially be removed from the list in a couple of years.

"The criminal network is still there, but they are becoming fewer and fewer and we are very happy that we're not seeing any new recruitment. There are no younger members connected to this network, so they are getting older and older and fewer and fewer," the police's municipal liaison officer Jonatan Örstrand told The Local's Sweden in Focus series, adding that it “all depends on the course of the future”.

'A question of education': What Rinkeby residents think about the riots, by Lee Roden, 2/22/17,

Rinkeby in Stockholm made global headlines in February after riots broke out involving car fires just days after Donald Trump thrust the spotlight on Sweden. But what do the people who actually live and work in the suburb think about it? The Local spoke to them to find out.
Rinkeby's issues will not be news to anyone living in Sweden. In 2015 police included it in a list of 15 areas judged to be “particularly vulnerable”, while two years prior it was one of several areas in Stockholm which saw violent unrest.

The area's challenges have been given renewed, global attention this week however, as the riot on February 20th coincided with US president Trump's factually inaccurate comments about crime and immigration in Sweden.

When The Local arrived in Rinkeby on Wednesday the atmosphere was calm, and there were few signs of the trouble from two nights before, with the exception of the occasional patched up window on shop fronts. But residents there still have plenty to say about the problems in the area.

"There were a few cars burning in the car park behind here – five or six of them. Then some kids broke the glass in the subway followed by shops and a restaurant," Haider, who works in the Rinkeby Livs store and saw the riot taking place, told The Local.

"The problem, you know, is that the police did nothing. And not for the first time. If they arrest someone who does something wrong, within a few days they're free. It doesn’t make a difference – there’s no punishment," he claimed.

Haider's complaint is in line with those made by other residents who have spoken to Swedish media outlets in the last few days, criticizing police for waiting too long before clamping down on the rioters. No arrests were made following Monday's riot, and the shop worker thinks that shows more needs to be done to prevent repeat incidents.

"It's not so many people causing trouble. Maybe 30, 40. Arrest the whole bunch. There are other solutions too. Split them up, move them all to different cities, for example, and leave the normal people in peace," he suggested.

"The people doing this stuff are known. It’s not the first time," his friend added. "If someone has an argument with their partner and the police are called, they're here straight away. But when this happens, they aren't."

Preliminary figures from Sweden's National Council for Crime Prevention (Brå) show that the Rinkeby-Kista municipality which Rinkeby is a part of was the municipality in Stockholm with the second highest rate of violent crimes reported in the city in 2016.

Its 2,405 reported violent crimes per 100,000 residents was lower than only Norrmalm in the city centre (3,679 per 100,000 residents). The lowest rate, by comparison, was found in Bromma (709 violent crimes per 100,000).

For global context on crime in Sweden, the overall rate of deadly violence in Sweden is about 1 per 100,000 inhabitants, compared to 5 per 100,000 in the US, according to the FBI.

Speaking to Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter on Tuesday about the riot the night before, police commissioner Jan Evensson conceded that "zero arrests in a situation like this is not a pass", and promised that improvements will be made if it emerges that officers did take too long to intervene.

Not everyone The Local spoke to was as critical of the police however. A shop owner in the area who wished to remain anonymous, said the officers "do exactly what is required of them by the law, nothing more, nothing less".

"Everyday normal people here have a good relationship with the police and like having them around. You can speak with the police, have a laugh with them. The problem is between the criminals and the police," he explained.

"Part of the problem is that some people move here from countries with serious problems and it’s difficult for them to enter Swedish society. They look for the shortest route as a result, and that's crime," the man, who moved to Sweden 35 years ago, insisted.

"Sweden is one of the best countries in the world and has done its best, but some decisions it has taken have been weak. We have been hit by some bad decisions on immigration, so Trump is right in that regard. That's why I think the Sweden Democrats will win the next election here," he predicted.

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