Unarmed police come under fire

Friday's Dagens Nyheter continued last week's police-bashing with the alarming news that over a hundred guns are missing from the Stockholm police weapons reserve.

According to the paper, an inspection last September revealed that of 6,000 registered weapons in the department, 829 were unaccounted for. And “after an extensive search” only around 700 have been recovered.

It was left to assistant commissioner, Richard Sevelius, to explain that officers who leave the force or move to another department often simply forget to return their guns.

“Naturally, this is extremely worrying,” he said. “Now we’ve got to face up to the task of following up every case, and I hope that all the pistols turn up.”

But Stockholm police gets no sympathy from other forces. A spokesman from Västra Gotaland’s police department told DN: “Of course we’re not careless. If anyone is in control of weapons, it must be the police – especially since we enforce gun control among the public.”

With a superintendent in custody for drug smuggling and other senior officers under investigation for acquiring their apartments not altogether fairly, the public credibility of the Stockholm police department is at an all time low. In response, district commissioner Carin Gotblad announced this week that a special group will be set up to investigate the way the organisation works.

She isn’t optimistic about what the group, which will report directly to her, might find. “I can’t guarantee that we won’t find problems in other areas,” she admitted.

Many of the papers pointed out that the internal problems of the police run deep, and improvement will only come with a culture change.

Luckily, such a change may just be taking place. Tuesday’s Svenska Dagbladet reported that in the last three years there has been a 13% increase in the number of women joining the police. The shift has been greatest in Stockholm, where 25% of officers are female.