Insurance agency staff facing more threats

The number of threats against employees of the Swedish Social Insurance Office (Försäkringskassan) is growing, according to the authority's head of security, Berit Sjödin.

Insurance agency staff facing more threats

“This is totally unacceptable,” Sjödin told Sveriges Radio (SR).

She said the growing number of threats might be connected to increasingly stringent rules governing the country’s social insurance benefits.

Social Insurance Office staff have faced threats of violence against themselves as well as suicide. A third of the 181 incidents reported so far this year have involved an individual who has threatened to harm him- or herself.

With a few exceptions, the threats have been connected to sickness benefits or allowances, the areas where the rules have been significantly tightened.

“We noted this upward trend in the autumn, and since then, the number has increased even more,” Sjödin told Dagens Nyheter (DN) newspaper.

“During the year, more and more individuals will receive the news that they are no longer entitled to sickness benefits, and we are prepared for the number of threats to increase. We cannot be niave about the situation.”

At the end of the year, a large group of people currently receiving long-term sickness allowances will lose their benefits.

“Most often, the individuals behind these threats are extremely desperate. Totally normal people who lose it when their economic situation falls apart. Of course, we are sympathetic with them, but it is totally unacceptable that our staff are exposed to this,” Sjödin said.

At the same time, she acknowledged that Social Insurance Office staff have possibly also become more inclined to report threats.

In 2005, there were 186 reports of threats against employees. As of April this year, staff have reported 181 incidents. Since 2001/2002, there has been an upward trend in the number of reports from the previous year: from 34 to 250, according to statistics from DN.

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