Violence against women increasing

According to a study by Amnesty which was reported in most of the week's papers, violence against women in Sweden is increasing.

Throughout the 1990s the reported incidents of attacks on women shot up by 40%, while last year the police dealt with 22,400 cases. Of those, two thirds of the crimes were committed by people already known to the women.

“This is about women’s human rights,” said Katarina Bergehed, the author of the report. “Every fourth woman in Sweden has experienced physical violence.”

DN highlighted the criticisms of the country’s local social services which, it said, were not dealing with the issue:

“There is no information available for women at risk and the social services should be offering protected accommodation. Many of the victims live in districts which are blind to the problem.”

On Tuesday, the results of a survey carried out by the police made grim reading for the country’s private security firms. Under the headline “Rape, kidnapping, serious assault and handling stolen goods”, DN reported that in the last five years some 58 security guards in Stockholm alone have been suspended pending further investigation of crimes they are said to have been involved in.

“We need to question the recruitment of security guards,” said police expert Lars Tonneman. “The fact that so many unsuitable people are being taken on shows that they aren’t being interviewed properly.”

But Martin Bjurhem, of the security industry’s trade association Swedguard, claimed that his organisation’s members were thorough in their assessments.

“The system allows private individuals to take the training and then to be employed directly by a bar or nightclub,” he said. “The problem is, there is absolutely no ongoing control of whether these so-called freelance guards are suitable or law-abiding,” he said.

Since a security guard is only required to undergo 60 hours’ training compared to the three years it takes to train a police officer, it is perhaps not surprising that the number of public areas being patrolled by private security guards has doubled in the last ten years. There are now 11,000 guards in Sweden.