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Audit: 'serious problems' in Swedish legal system

Audit: 'serious problems' in Swedish legal system

Published: 15 Dec 2011 18:10 GMT+01:00
Updated: 15 Dec 2011 22:40 GMT+01:00

Sweden's legal system is plagued by serious shortcomings, according to a new report, which argues that a lack of coordination between different agencies as well as “weak” government management are to blame for long clearing times for criminal cases.

A review carried out by the Swedish National Audit Office (Riksrevisionen) concludes that cases languish too long with the police, prosecutors and courts, and that coordination between the different branches of the Swedish legal system functions poorly.

A lack of resources isn't the problem; rather it's how those resources are used and how operations are led, Auditor General Jan Landahl wrote in an opinion piece published on Thursday in the Svenska Dagbladet (SvD) newspaper.

The agency has conducted reviews of several areas of the legal system, including work done with young offenders, canceled trials, the search for stolen items and compensation paid to criminal victims.

Despite several governments having devoted more resources to the Swedish judicial system and launching various reforms, many of the problems with long clearance times haven't been solved.

“The problems that people discussed and tried to fix in the early 2000s are still there,” Landahl told the TT news agency.

“I think that's very serious.”

The inefficiencies often stem from a lack of coordination between different agencies, like the police and prosecutors, or the courts and the prison system.

In an attempt to better understand the problem, the Audit Office also examined the government's management of the legal system.

“The management has been inconsistentl,” said Landahl.

“They manage according to one parameter one year and then forget it the next. It's only natural in a political environment.”

He added, however, that when the government has forced agencies to work together, the results can be successful.

“The government has a responsibility for a massive, heavy machine. And the management has simply been too weak and not very cohesive,” said Landahl.

The criticism isn't new and police are working continually with the issues highlighted by the Audit Office, according to National Police Commissioner Bengt Svenson.

He agreed that more crimes need to be solved more quickly, but also had his reservations about the report.

“I don't think the Audit Office has delivered a report about efficacy because criminality has changed during this time,” he told TT, citing a rise in internet fraud which requires a long time to investigate.

He also pointed to other measures of success, such as a study which found that the number of crimes solved per police officer had increased from 12 per officer in 1995 to 18 cases per officer in 2009.

Svenson admitted, however, that cases involving young people, which according to law are supposed to be handled quickly, aren't moving as fast as they should.

“Young people are right to demand that authorities treat them as mandated by requirements put forward by the Riksdag and the government and we need to be better at that,” he said.

He suggested that reorganizing the Swedish police force was one option to help address the problem.

“My decided opinion is that we have too many police agencies and we could have a more effective police corps if we had another structure,” said Svenson.

TT/The Local/dl (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

19:07 December 15, 2011 by Beavis
THink the pirate bay case amongst other high proile cases has already shown the system is not working. But then its Sweden, so it will never be fixed.
23:54 December 15, 2011 by Belovedcity
The problem caused by a weak quality of those people who interpreted the law . Swedish law is very sophisticated that is why it needs always people highly experienced who can be able to push energy in the whole legal system .
00:23 December 16, 2011 by J Jack
Perfect timing for Assange.
03:16 December 16, 2011 by sgt_doom
Corruption may have something to do with it as well, so I would humbly recommend the perusal of this article below:

http://markcrispinmiller.com/2011/02/eight-big-problems-with-the-case-against-assange-must-read-by-naomi-wolf/
03:37 December 16, 2011 by swenrika
And this is news ? how ?

Is it not weird how most people know it, but a study needs to be made to prove it. Lets hope things change now.
06:58 December 16, 2011 by Grokh
If sweden wants to stop wasting time then they should keep real criminals in jail and stop prioritizing 16 year olds that downloaded a song over murderers.
08:59 December 16, 2011 by Kaethar
How is this at all relevant to the Assange-case? I swear, laziness is spreading in society. Reading beyong the headline is a must, people.
09:23 December 16, 2011 by engagebrain
Juries, or the complete lack of juries, is a little dodgy. Judgements are made by longterm employees of the state who are much less likely than a jury made up of citizens to take risks with their paycheck.
10:17 December 16, 2011 by Puffin
I think that people need to read beyond the headline as the actual report is about the legnth of time that it takes to carry out Police investigations and and bring cases to trial

Not sure how this would help Assange as he has rather dragged out his own case by refusing to attend any police interviews

I'm not sure about the assertion that resources are not a problem that is contained in the report - as huge areas of Sweden outside the main cities have no police any longer thanks to the current government's cutback prgramme - For example many kommuns in Dalarna no longer have a single police station these days

- when there was an attempted ram-raid breakout at the forensic psychitric unit in Säter last year the nearest police station was in Borlänge 25 km away

- in some areas people are having to resort to self-help where there is little chance of the police turning up fast - a few years ago there had been a spate of break-ins at farms and one of the farmers saw one in progress at his neighbour's farm so realising the police were unlikely to come in time he called the neighbouring farms and around 6 farmers blocked the east-european gang in with tractors until the police turned up almost an hour later
12:10 December 16, 2011 by Mark737408
I laugh in the face of the swedish justice system its the most pathethic thing on this planet.
13:19 December 16, 2011 by spo10
As the headline says: "serious problems in Swedish legal system" and will we see any major changes soon? I doubt it. As far as I know, it will only remain as one of the articles in any news papers then it will eventually die out.
14:02 December 16, 2011 by Grindsprint
@markwhatever blah blah blah. Theese bitter comments from foreign commenters here are getting old! Just because you hate us for our freedom or whatever.... LOL
19:11 December 16, 2011 by Archie1954
You didn't need an audit to know the judicial system had big problems. All you had to do was review the Assange case.
20:23 December 16, 2011 by sgt_doom
Well, perhaps there's still a little bit (probably very little) of justice left in the UK:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2011/dec/16/julian-assange-appeal-extradition-court
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