Speaking at the Moderate party local government conference in Örebro, the minister yesterday aired her thoughts on how the inquiry should proceed. The committee will have until the end of next year to complete its assignment, which will include assessing situations in which foreign police officers would be permitted to act, i.e. exercise their official authority, vis à vis Swedish citizens. Operations could involve arrests or other police measures.
According to TT’s sources, the Government feels there is a need to allow foreign police operations in Sweden as a complement to the work of the Swedish police in areas such as human trafficking/smuggling or other forms of cross-border crime. Cooperation could also include support during major public events, such as international summit meetings, sporting events where crowd violence is likely, major accidents or other crises.
Ask noted that the opposition, including the chair of the Parliamentary Committee on Justice and her predecessor in office, Thomas Bodström, are opposed to the idea of foreign police operating on Swedish soil.
“We will now draw up a background document and discuss it. I believe that with a good basis to build on we will reach an agreement acceptable to everyone. That’s how it usually works. I can’t imagine anyone opposing our proposal if we show that greater collaboration, subject to certain conditions and in certain contexts, would be good for crime prevention and our security,” the minister said at a press conference during the Moderate party local government conference in Örebro.
Ask maintained that citizens living in areas bordering on Norway, Finland and Denmark find it difficult to understand the current obstacles to cooperation and would regard it as unreasonable not to take advantage of the opportunity to move forward.
The inquiry will be chaired by the head of Ekobrottsmydigheten (Swedish Economic Crime Authority) Gudrun Antemar.
The head of Rikskriminalpolisen (Swedish National Criminal Police), Therese Mattsson, welcomed the minister’s decision to look into the feasibility of allowing foreign police to operate in Sweden.
“An excellent initiative. We have wanted this for a long time,” Mattsson said to TT. She referred to the need for clearly defined rules on issues such as how and when foreign police officers would be allowed to carry weapons and under what circumstances they would be permitted to intervene. She emphasised that overall responsibility lay with the Swedish police and that foreign contingents would ultimately be under Swedish command should joint operations become a reality.
As an example of the kind of cooperation that could be further developed, Therese Mattsson and Beatrice Ask cited the joint exercises held by the Swedish and Norwegian special task forces. However, they point out that it would be a major advantage if they could also collaborate in critical situations, especially as this would better enable them to endure protracted operations.