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CRIME

Poisonings hit Gothenburg health office

A series of mysterious poisonings which sent several people to hospital continues to baffle both police and employees from a home healthcare office in Hisingen near Gothenburg.

The lunchroom refrigerator remains locked and employees have been warned not to leave their food unattended.

“The atmosphere is tough, no one trusts anyone,” one employee who wished to remain anonymous told the Göteborgs-Posten (GP) newspaper.

“We can’t even leave a coffee mug if we need to go to the bathroom.”

Since August, a total of five workers have taken ill on three different occasions after eating in the office lunchroom.

One of the poisoning victims required transport to the hospital by ambulance, and a total of three were hospitalized from the resulting symptoms.

Police were called in September after traces of a white substance were found in some of the remaining food, which has been sent for analysis to the Swedish National Laboratory of Forensic Science (Statens kriminaltekniska laboratorium – SKL).

“The people had clear signs of poisoning and, on one occasion, traces of a powdery substance were found in the food,” David Hallberg, an investigator with Hisingen police, told the newspaper.

“We haven’t found reasonable suspicions against anyone. It’s a real nightmare scenario where everyone suspects everyone.”

While police have closed their investigations into the first four cases, the fifth case remains open and is expected to be completed in February.

In the mean time, the office’s 45 employees, most of whom are caregivers and healthcare workers, continue to avoid eating in the lunchroom as they attempt to put the poisonings behind them.

“This has been traumatic for us,” the local district healthcare director Anita Wenblad told GP.

“We’ve had a good working relationship with the police but it’s obviously frustrating that it hasn’t been possible to come up with anything concrete. Right now we’re working on distancing ourselves from speculation and sticking to the facts.”

Wenblad added that there hasn’t been any reason to believe that someone would want to harm the team of healthcare workers.

CRIME

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.

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