Foreigners more likely to be crime suspects

People who were born abroad are more likely to end up on the police's register of probable suspects than people whose parents were both born in Sweden.

The likelihood of being added to the register is also greater if one or both parents were born abroad, according to the Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention (Brå), which presented a report on Wednesday. However, those born outside of Sweden are at the greatest risk.

As well as its own research, Brå has examined Swedish and international studies on the subject, and the conclusions drawn in the new report do not differ noticeably from those in a similar report published in 1996.

Sten Höglund, who until recently was the head of the Sociology Institute at Umeå University, is one of the two researchers who analysed the latest material.

He said that the increased risk of a person with a foreign background ending up on the suspects register was not insignificant “but nevertheless moderate”.

Höglund also made it clear that there are weak grounds for discussing crime rates from the perspective of ethnic differences.

“The dominant difference in all crime is gender,” he said.

“The difference between men and women is significantly greater – to the men’s disadvantage – than the ethnic differences. There is also a greater risk of ending up on the register if you are from the lower class.”

Jerzy Sarnecki, Professor of Criminology at Stockholm University, has also had a good look through Brå’s report, but was reluctant to comment before its publication.

However, Sarnecki acknowledged that the increased likelihood pointed to by Brå does exist.

“I believe that primarily it can be explained by how the situation in the new country develops for these people,” he said.

“We know, for example, that there is discrimination in the job market, and if you can’t get a job you can’t establish yourself – and then the probability of crime is higher.”

An individual’s background could be one factor among many which influence the likelihood of committing a crime, according to Sarnecki. But he pointed out that context is important, using himself as an example:

“The fact that I am a professor at Stockholm University and not an alcoholic in early retirement is not only because I am unbelievably talented, but probably also because I come from a middle class background in a central European country,” he joked.

Sarnecki noted also that many Swedes who moved to Denmark and the USA in the middle of the 1800s faced the classic problems, including crime, which all ethnic minorities can encounter in a new country.

“But it was often the poor people who emigrated,” he said.

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TT/The Local


Sweden breaks yearly record for fatal shootings

A man was shot to death in Kristianstad, Skåne, late on Thursday night. He is the 48th person to be shot dead in Sweden this year, meaning that the previous record for most fatal shootings in one year set in 2020 has now been broken.

Sweden breaks yearly record for fatal shootings

“Unfortunately we can’t say more than that he’s in his twenties and we have no current suspects,” duty officer Mikael Lind told TT newswire.

According to police statistics, this most recent deadly shooting means that 48 people have been shot to death in 2022, meaning that Sweden has broken a new record for deadly shootings per year.

Earlier this week, Sweden’s police chief Anders Thornberg said that this number is likely to rise even higher before the end of the year.

“It looks like we’re going to break the record this year,” he told TT on Tuesday. “That means – if it continues at the same pace – around 60 deadly shootings.”

“If it ends up being such a large increase that would be very unusual,” said Manne Gerell, criminiologist at Malmö University.

“We saw a large increase between 2017 and 2018, and we could see the same now, as we’re on such low figures in Sweden. But it’s still worrying that it’s increasing by so much over such a short time period,” he said.

There also seems to be an upwards trend in the number of shootings overall during 2022. 273 shootings had occured by September 1st this year, compared with 344 for the whole of 2021 and 379 for the whole of 2020.

If shootings continue at this rate for the rest of 2022, it is likely that the total number for the year would be higher than 2021 and 2020. There are, however, fewer injuries.

“The majority of shootings cause no injuries, but this year, mortality has increased substantially,” Gerell explained. “There aren’t more people being shot, but when someone is shot, they’re more likely to die.”

Thursday’s shooting took place in Kristianstad, but it’s only partially true that deadly gun violence is becoming more common in smaller cities.

“It’s moved out somewhat to smaller cities, but we’re overexaggerating that effect,” Gerell said. “We’re forgetting that there have been shootings in other small cities in previous years.”

A report from the Crime Prevention Council (Brå) presented last spring showed that Sweden, when compared with 22 different countries in Europe, was the only one with an upwards trend for deadly shootings.

Temporary increases can be seen during some years in a few countries, but there were no countries which showed such a clear increase as Sweden has seen for multiple years in a row, according to Brå.

The Swedish upwards trend for deadly gun violence began in the beginning of the 2000s, but the trend took off in 2013 and has continued to increase since.

Eight of ten deadly shootings take place in criminal environments, the study showed. The Swedish increase has taken place in principle only among the 20-29 year old age group.

When police chief Anders Thornberg was asked how the trend can be broken, he said that new recruitments are one of the most important factors.

“The most important thing is to break recruitment, make sure we can listen encrypted and that we can get to the profits of crime in a better way,” he said.