Swedish police reported for “database of people’s views”

The Swedish police is to be investigated by the Data Inspection Board after allegations that the force has been keeping an illegal register of people's views.

The register is used to classify crimes into certain fixed categories, but a report made to the board alleges that individuals can also be linked to the codes.

“We have received a report which asserts that the codes are not just used for statistics but are linked to people in a way that makes it easy for the police to search,” said David Säfwe, a lawyer at the Data Inspection Board.

Säfwe told Göteborgs-Posten that the matter was being taken very seriously and he had written to the National Police Board requesting clarification.

It is illegal to hold details of a person’s religious or political views without their permission. But as well as codes identifying crimes such as “violence against women” and “violence against police”, there are others representing a range of spurious ‘special interest groups’.

R205 identifies racism and R206 stands for raves. R207 is linked to satanism while R209, perhaps most oddly of all, categorises vegan-related matters.

But Lotta Gustavson, a senior lawyer at the police, told Swedish Radio that the codes are only used to describe a certain type of incident.

“They are never linked to a person,” she said. “In our judgement this is not a question of registering people’s views.”

The chief of police, Stefan Strömberg, said that the point of the codes was that to allow the police to follow up on certain types of crimes and to improve crime prevention.

“The police presented the system to the Data Inspection Board before it was introduced and they had no comments on the codes then,” he said.

“If there is another view now and it is shown that the system can be misused we will naturally take measures against that.”

Sources: SR, Göteborgs Posten