Full speed ahead as police take it easy

It's one of the busiest times of the year on Sweden's roads, but this summer there could be no traffic police on duty in many parts of Sweden, as too many police have taken holiday at the same time.

According to Swedish Radio (SR), police forces in many Swedish counties are completely abandoning traffic duty in the period following Midsummer.

Many of those who would normally be out trying to trap speeding or drunk drivers will either be on holiday themselves or have been shifted to other duties to cover for vacationing colleagues.

In Gävleborg county, for instance, the usual force of 40 traffic police has been reduced to 16.

Police in Jönköping county promised on the Swedish police force’s national website that they would monitor speed and drink driving on the E4 motorway and a number of other major roads, but SR reports that normal traffic monitoring is in fact almost completely suspended.

“We have fewer police because a certain percentage of them are on holiday,” Göran Bäckström, head of traffic police in Jönköping county told SR.

“It looks pretty much like this over the whole country,” he added.

And it’s not just traffic police all going on holiday at the same time. During the height of the season, 30 percent of the 600 Stockholm police working in riot squads, traffic units and units responsible for the Metro system will be on vacation at the same time.

But police say that they will cope.

“It can be tricky at times,” admitted Mats Vangstad of Stockholm police, “but we manage”.

Ulla Andersson Jarl of Jönköping police agreed, saying that the force would focus on being able to come when people need emergency help.

“Emergency intervention has the highest priority,” she told Svenska Dagbladet.