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Swedish police are "so bloody idle" - Ringholm

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09:24 CEST+02:00
In what he thought was private chat with a colleague on Monday evening, Sweden's Deputy Prime Minister, Bosse Ringholm, called the country's police force "so bloody idle".

"I apologise," he later told news agency TT.

The frank statement about the police came after a telephone interview with the programme Nyheterna on the theme of illegal gambling machines. During the interview itself, Ringholm said that the police are doing what they can in the fight against illegal gambling.

After the interview Ringholm let slip a somewhat different view of the Swedish police. The telephone line was still connected and TV4 continued to record what he was saying.

In a sequence lasting almost three minutes, Ringholm was heard discussing the police's competence with a colleague.

"You can see if you go into a tobacconist here in Stockholm. Many of them have a curtain - try to go behind that curtain and you'll see what they have there. It's usually an illegal gambling machine," he said.

"It isn't any harder for the local policeman to go in and check it, but they don't. They are so bloody idle."

Ringholm was also heard describing a policeman who provided details of the number of illegal gambling machines as "an idiot" and he went on to say that the police "prioritise doing nothing, so that they do nothing wrong".

The chairman of the Police Association, Jan Karlsen, demanded an explanation for the outburst.

"I am waiting with interest to hear from the Deputy Prime Minister about what he was thinking when he said this. Was he in an emotional state?"

Karlsen said he wants to talk to the Prime Minister, Göran Persson, about the government's view of the police.

The opposition parties also leapt upon Ringholm's statement.

"What's most worrying is the hypocrisy," said the leader of the Moderate Party, Fredrik Reinfeldt.

"When he doesn't know he's being recorded, he sounds just like us Moderates and the Swedish public when we describe the fight against crime."

"It's the Social Democrats' policies which have created a situation where the attacker is looked after, the victim is made invisible and the police are under suspicion," Reinfeldt added.

Centre Party leader Maud Olofsson said that Bosse Ringholm ought to resign.

"It's going to be very, very difficult for him to stay," she told Aftonbladet.

Ringholm himself tried to explain his contemptuous words by saying that he was "frustrated" to hear from TV4's journalist how many illegal gambling machines there are, and that the number has not fallen in recent years.

"I don't think badly of the Swedish police. They do a good job and they often have very difficult problems to solve," he said.

"After the interview itself was finished we continued a conversation, where I said things about the police which I definitely don't think are appropriate or fair."

Referring specifically to the "so bloody idle" part of his conversation, Ringholm admitted that his choice of words was insensitive and said that the Police Association had good reason to react. And he blamed his speakerphone:

"I had the phone on loudspeaker and I hung up after the interview. But the way it works, it's not enough just to hang up - you also have to switch off the loudspeaker. I was under the impression that when I hung up, the call was over."

TT/The Local

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