‘Depressed’ Hell’s Angels face probe

They might not look like sensitive sorts, but seven out of ten Hell’s Angels in Stockholm are on sick benefits with depression, Stockholm’s police commissioner Carin Götblad told the press on Monday.

Now the doctor who signed most of the men’s sick notes could be struck off the medical register.

Doctor Roman Nowik is at the centre of an enquiry announced on Monday into members of the biker gang, which has about 30 members in Stockholm. It is believed that many of those on benefits were working at the same time.

Police and officials at the Swedish social insurance administration (Försäkringskassan) say they plan to work together more closely to find proof that the bikers were cheating the system.

Nowik told Dagens Nyheter on Wednesday that the Hell’s Angels members he had seen were not faking.

“They are depressed – in many cases suicidal – and have not tricked me. I am an expert on depression,” he told the paper.

But a report in December from the National Board of Health and Welfare (Socialstyrelsen) said that Nowik had often failed to provide medical evidence when signing sick notes.

Meanwhile, officials at the insurance administration have said that announcing the investigation into the Hell’s Angels publicly will make the probe more difficult.

Christoffer Franzén at Försäkringskassan said the public announcement was “unfortunate”.

Dagens Nyheter reported that many police were upset that a previously secret investigation had been put into the public domain.

But Inspector Christer Nilsson said that the police had “made the operative decision that it was not wrong,” to announce that the Hell’s Angels were being investigated.

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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.