Police criticised after teen forced to strip

Police officers at a station in southern Sweden have been criticised by the Chancellor of Justice (Justitiekanslern, JK) after they forced a 16-year-old girl to strip naked.

The Chancellor, one of Sweden’s most senior law officers, slammed the officers in Lund for routinely forcing young people in their custody to strip, and also noted the lack of documentation regarding the case.

The teenager was at a party in Lomma, near Lund, which was raided by the police in February last year. She was tired and had fallen asleep when the police came to the apartment. Because they suspected that she had taken drugs, they took her to the police station.

At the station, the police forced the girl to strip naked. In the room, there were two female police officers, but there was a glass window in the door into which all who passed by could look. According to the girl, several male police officers were outside.

She then provided urine samples, which showed that she had not taken drugs, which she was under suspicion for.

She was offended by by her treatment and reported the matter to the Chancellor of Justice.

“The Chancellor of Justice has questioned why she had to undress completely naked and the fact that it was carried out in a room where other people could observe her through a pane of glass in the door to the room,” wrote JK administrators Anna Skarhed and Katarina Berglund Siegbahn in their ruling. “If there was a suspicion of drug possession, that would have warranted a physical search in the form of a clothing inspection.”

They added, “Undressing more or less was routine when it came to suspicion of minor drug offenses. The Chancellor of Justice has reason to believe that this has happened in this case. The Chancellor assumes that the police authority in Skåne will review its procedures with regard to physical inspections and body searches for minor drug offenses if it has not already done so.”

Skåne police reported that the clear glass pane has since been replaced by frosted glass.

A preliminary investigation of misconduct began after the girl reported the treatment. The girl, however, changed her mind and asked that the case be closed.

“In this case, two colleagues did not follow the right procedures,” Skåne police general counsel Mårten Unbeck told The Local. “It will not be necessary to change normal procedures. I have to read the JK decision first. We did wrong in this case. We don’t normally do this.”

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


Calls for special police tactics to be available across Sweden

The chairwoman of the Police Association West Region has said that police special tactics, known as Särskild polistaktik or SPT, should be available across Sweden, to use in demonstrations similar to those during the Easter weekend.

Calls for special police tactics to be available across Sweden

SPT, (Särskild polistaktik), is a tactic where the police work with communication rather than physical measures to reduce the risk of conflicts during events like demonstrations.

Tactics include knowledge about how social movements function and how crowds act, as well as understanding how individuals and groups act in a given situation. Police may attempt to engage in collaboration and trust building, which they are specially trained to do.

Katharina von Sydow, chairwoman of the Police Association West Region, told Swedish Radio P4 West that the concept should exist throughout the country.

“We have nothing to defend ourselves within 10 to 15 metres. We need tools to stop this type of violent riot without doing too much damage,” she said.

SPT is used in the West region, the South region and in Stockholm, which doesn’t cover all the places where the Easter weekend riots took place.

In the wake of the riots, police unions and the police’s chief safety representative had a meeting with the National Police Chief, Anders Tornberg, and demanded an evaluation of the police’s work. Katharina von Sydow now hopes that the tactics will be introduced everywhere.

“This concept must exist throughout the country”, she said.

During the Easter weekend around 200 people were involved in riots after a planned demonstration by anti-Muslim Danish politician Rasmus Paludan and his party Stram Kurs (Hard Line), that included the burning of the Muslim holy book, the Koran.

Police revealed on Friday that at least 104 officers were injured in counter-demonstrations that they say were hijacked by criminal gangs intent on targeting the police. 

Forty people were arrested and police are continuing to investigate the violent riots for which they admitted they were unprepared. 

Paludan’s application for another demonstration this weekend was rejected by police.

In Norway on Saturday, police used tear gas against several people during a Koran-burning demonstration after hundreds of counter-demonstrators clashed with police in the town of Sandefjord.