An uncommonly calm Valborg

Beefed up security efforts on Valborgsmässoafton – Walpurgis Night – paid off this year. Police and parents on patrol, piles of confiscated liquor and teenagers escorted home resulted in a Valborg without major incident.

An uncommonly calm Valborg

A little messy, fairly decent, little bit worse than a normal weekend night were the descriptions given by Swedish police authorities around the country early this morning.

And regarding their own efforts, they were even more positive.

“We did a good job,” said Pia Persson, commander on duty on Gotland.

“There were a lot of people out, we have confiscated a lot of liquor, but we avoided bar brawls, fistfights and drunken confrontations.”

In Östersund, police reported a “positive vibe around town.”

In other parts of the country, there were assaults and drunkenness and people were taken into custody to sober up, but police were nevertheless satisfied that no major incidents had occurred.

In Barkaby, north of Stockholm, police fired a warning shot into the air when a field assistant received a death threat, and police were bombarded by beer cans by a large gang of youths. No one was injured, and no arrests were made.

In several counties, bonfires were banned, which removed natural gathering spots, and consequently, opportunities for fights. However, in Västerbotten county in northern Sweden, a house caught fire and burned to the ground.

Kronoberg in southern Sweden, which celebrated a relatively calm Walpurgis Night last year, saw five assaults, one aggravated assult and a whole lot of intoxicated teenagers, despite the now famous “Kronoberg model,” which has been implemented by many other counties.

It involves rigid monitoring of underage youth with liquor, immediate seizure, followup with parents and an intensive search for pushers. The model has been in place for three years, and Kronoberg police have travelled to other districts and explained their working methods.

An evaluation by the Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention has shown that the model works. Both violence and youth drinking have decreased – and not just on Valborg.

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Valborg in Sweden unusually calm… but it left a mess

The alcohol-fuelled Swedish spring festival of Valborg was relatively calm this year, but revellers left so much litter in Lund that the council had to abandon plans to recycle it.

Valborg in Sweden unusually calm... but it left a mess
Workers clean up after Valborg in Lund's Stadspark. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT
Students at the universities of Lund and Uppsala traditionally start drinking shortly after waking up on Valborg and continue all day, with many years marked by vandalism and drunken misbehaviour. 
But this year  was unusually calm, with police only having to detain around 40 people for excessive drunkenness. 
The all-day drinking and concerts in Lund, however, left so many cans, plastic cups, and plates strewn all over the grass that the council's clean-up team decided not to recycle the metal cans as planned.  
“We had to forget that, it was too much work,” said Lars Brobeck, head of the parks in Lund. “But we did try to recycle the metal stools that they were sitting in.”
It took 120 people four hours to clean up the litter in Lund's Stadsparken, although they had help from those who came into the park to pick up cans and plastic bottles for the deposits on them. 
Overall, Brobeck said, park authorities were pleased with the way the day had gone, with no vandalism or other damage reported. 
“We had no real damage done with 25,000 people,” he said. “Everyone is quite pleased that they followed the rules.” 
Students in Lund celebrating Valborg in the traditional manner. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT
Police in Lund and Malmö maintained a constant presence during the celebrations, with horses, extra volunteer officers and a helicopter buzzing overhead, helping to keep the festivities under control.
The police in Lund had placed signs around advising people to drink a glass of water for every one of alcohol to help them make it through the full day's drinking. 
“It was calm, calmer than usual. It already felt like that in the morning and stayed that way all day,” Ewa-Gun Westford, spokesperson for the police's southern region, told the Aftonbladet newspaper. 
“We had three drugs offences, and no assaults or sexual offences, which should be looked at in relation to the 25,000 to 30,000 people who were there.” 
On Tuesday evening, Police in Lund told Sydsvenskan that 21 people had been detained for excessive drunkenness. 
Police in Lund drafted in volunteers to help control the crowd. Photo: Jonas Nilsson/TT
In Uppsala, the celebrations were also relatively calm, with 20 people held for drunkenness, four of whom were underage. There was one case of suspected sexual harassment, and one person arrested on drugs charges. One man was also robbed of his phone and watch at gunpoint. 
“There are a huge number of people celebrating Valborg in Uppsala, but our impression is that fewer celebrated this year than previously,” said Daniel Wikdahl, spokesman for the police's central Sweden district.