Politicians ban summer spirit

Readers will agree that with the long, light, Swedish summer evenings approaching, there's nothing like a cold beer in the park after work.

Unfortunately for residents of Södermalm in Stockholm, there will indeed be nothing like beer – or any other alcohol, for that matter – in parks this summer, according to Tuesday’s DN.

In an attempt to crack down on “youth drunkenness” in the area, politicians have requested that an existing ban on alcohol in Björnsträdgård and Vitabergsparken be extended to 25 parks and open areas.

The Left Party’s fun-loving Ann Mari Engel explained: “This part of the city has one of the worst problems with alcohol. We have many bars and it is the city’s policy to reduce alcohol consumption.”

DN pointed out that “it has been legal to drink alcohol in public areas since 1997” but councillor Olle Johnselius wasn’t having any of it: “We have a ‘Söder culture’ which sucks people in from other areas – extending the ban will protect our children from this destructive behaviour,” he said – and then admitted that it probably wouldn’t solve the problem anyway.

And before you could say ‘prohibition’, Göteborgs Posten was commenting on the ineffectiveness of the law against possessing and handling home-brewed spirits, which was introduced in 2000.

“Since then, the police haven’t exactly been flooded with tip-offs,” said the paper. In fact, only a few hundred people have been charged and 90% of these have simply been told to stop doing it.

But why go to all the bother of home-brewing if you can buy booze cheaply from abroad and still spice it up with a frisson of illegality? That, at least, seems to be the attitude behind the increasing market for smuggled alcohol.

“It means big money and the punishment is small, so people are willing to take the risk,” said Trollhättan’s police inspector, Tord Lindström. “The customers are of all ages, and a lot of teenagers even have suppliers’ numbers programmed into their phones.”

“It’s spreading like wildfire,” he added.