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CRIME

‘Parents should pay for their children’s crimes’

The Swedish government has announced that from September 1st parents will be made financially responsible for crimes committed by their children.

'Parents should pay for their children's crimes'

“For most people this is not a big issue at all. For most people it is patently clear that parents should take responsibility for their children,” Justice Minister Beatrice Ask said in a government statement.

Ask underlined that the proposal is part of raft of measures to tackle youth crime.

“Children and young people are very prone to criminal behaviour. If you consider the statistics from 2008, with regard to those suspected on reasonable grounds, 25 percent are aged between 15-20,” she said.

But the government proposal has been criticised by more than half of the referral bodies party to the legislative process. Among those that question whether the measure will have any affect on youth crime are the Ombudsmen of Justice (Justitieombudsmännen – JO).

“JO has found that there are insufficient grounds on which to base the claim that the proposal would have any preventative effect. There is therefore no basis for making an exception from the core principle that the person who commits a crime should pay the penalty,” Malou Lindblom at JO told The Local.

The proposal has also drawn criticism from the Swedish Prosecution Authority (Åklagarmyndigheten), the Chancellor of Justice (Justitiekanslern – JK) and the Swedish Bar Association (Advokatsamfundet). Both Stockholm and Uppsala Universities have also argued that current research does not support the claim that the measure will help to tackle youth crime.

Some fear that the measure may even make the situation worse for many children living in abusive situations.

But the proposal has gained support from some quarters – among them, the Children’s Ombudsman (Barnombudsmannen – BO).

“Currently children accumulate the debts incurred, which fall due when they come of age (18 in Sweden). This causes all sorts of problems in later life,” Catherine Johnsson at BO told The Local.

“Parents should take responsibility for their children and for the consequences of their actions,” she said.

In a bid to tackle youth criminal behaviour, the government also intends to extend police powers, including the right to spot search, to collect DNA and to perform drug tests. These proposals will come into force on July 1st.

“If we are to break a criminal development then we have to react very strongly if we see that there is a pattern,” Ask said.

The government also intends to place “clearer, higher demands” on social services and to work for greater cooperation between the social services and the police.

“It is not a question of punishing the children, but to give qualitative information to the social services to determine the measures that a young person could need,” Beatrice Ask said.

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POLITICS

Swedish party leader calls for chemical castration of sex offenders

Sweden's Christian Democrats have called for tougher sentences for sex offenders and making release conditional on chemical castration.

Swedish party leader calls for chemical castration of sex offenders

The Swedish Christian Democrats (KD) leader has called for the chemical castration of certain sex offenders as part of plans for a tougher grip on sexual crime and punishment in Sweden.

Speaking to the Swedish parliament on July 1st, KD party leader Ebba Busch said, “Every day, 27 rapes are reported. How many days must pass before the government takes action?”

“Today we propose that rapists and people who commit sexual crimes against children should be able to be chemically castrated.”

The controversial chemical castration proposal was the headline grabbing soundbite in a broader set of proposals to recalibrate the structure of Sweden’s sexual crime sentencing.

Among KD’s proposed sentencing changes is a life sentence for the aggravated rape of a child, the removal of automatic conditional release for sex offenders, and an increase in the sentence for aggravated rape up to a maximum of 25 years.

In addition, they want a “monitoring period” for convicts who have been released, equivalent to one third of the sentence served.

They also want to establish a national knowledge centre for sexual violence where people who feel that they have “problematic sexuality” can receive support. The center must also “be able to administer chemical castration on a voluntary basis to those who are concerned about unwanted sexual thoughts and impulses and have a compulsive sexuality”.

READ ALSO: What’s the Swedish Christian Democrats’ abortion contract all about?

Chemical castration, she suggested, should be implemented as a condition of release for some sexual offenders. “It may mean that if a person like Nytorgsmannen is to be able to become a free man, a chemical castration must have taken place before the release,” Busch said, referring to Andreas Holm, a man sentenced in 2021 for 35 different crimes including 24 rapes.

But this is not the first time the Christian Democrats have toyed with the idea of chemical castration as a form of legal punishment. As far back as 20 years ago, under former leader Alf Svensson, the right-wing party raised the idea of conditional chemical castration of rapists and pedophiles.

At the time the proposal was rejected by all other parties.

Chemical castration, the process of preventing sex hormone production through chemicals, can reduce sexual libido but the effects on those with deviant behaviours are relatively unknown.

Chemical castration can also prove costly as it is not a one-off treatment but rather requires regular interventions, which means the police would be reliant on those sentences to chemical castration making regular trips to the authorities for further treatment.

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