Police “ignorant about hate crime”

Hate crime is increasing in Sweden but the police's ability to deal with it is limited by a lack of knowledge. That's the conclusion of an internal inquiry which, according to Dagens Nyheter, was covered up by the National Police Board.

In 2003 there were 3,914 hate crimes, in which the attack was motivated by the victim’s sexuality or ethnicity, in Sweden – an increase of 5% on the year before. The fastest rising area is crimes against homosexuals, which have doubled in eight years.

In response, the National Police Board has organised a series of conferences and in February distributed among local police authorities guidelines on dealing with homophobic crimes.

But after 4 months, none of the 20 police districts has used the guidelines.

In a survey carried out by the Swedish National Police Academy, only three of the police districts were found to have sufficient knowledge of the guidelines.

The interviewees were those responsible for prioritising hate crimes within their department and two thirds of them said that their bosses did not make it clear how important the issue is. They also reported a lack of knowledge of changes in the law and of racist networks.

But in the National Police Board’s annual report to the government, it described the progress in its work against hate crime as “good”. That’s a cover-up, said Dagens Nyheter.

“I delivered the result to the National Police Board but I don’t know why they chose to distance themselves from the research which they themselves had requested,” said the man behind the survey, Christer Nyberg.

Eva Brännmark, the head of the procedural department at the police board, told DN that the answers depended on who was asked.

“Obviously it can be better than it is today,” she said.

“The need for knowledge is great and there are authorities which are evidently not clear on how they should work with hate crime.”

Sources: Dagens Nyheter, Svenska Dagbladet, SR