During the first half of 2009 a total of 148 people were reported for paying prostitutes for sex. The number for the same period this year was 770.
A large part of the rise - 430 cases - was due to the discovery of a major prostitution ring in Jämtland county, north-western Sweden. But even when these cases are discounted, the figures had more than doubled.
But police said the dramatic increase was probably not due to a sudden rise in the number of men visiting prostitutes. Rather, they credit increased measures to tackle prostitution and human trafficking. An extra 40 million kronor has been allocated this year to pay for training and strengthening of the police's operations against the sex trade.
“The figures are absolutely a result of the fact that the police have been given the means to dive deep into this,” said Chief Inspector Kajsa Wahlberg, who advises the government on human trafficking issues.
The national pattern was reflected in Sweden's major cities. In Skåne, which includes Malmö, some 20 cases of paying for sex were reported during the whole of 2009. So far this year, 50 cases have been reported. There, the extra money has been used to increase internet monitoring of the sex trade, which has resulted both in more reports of people paying for sex and in a fall in street prostitution.
Västra Götaland, which includes Gothenburg, also saw a big increase in reports:
“I wouldn't say that everything is hunky-dory. But it's a big increase and it's clear that we can be pleased with the good results,” said Mats Palmgren, deputy head of the police in greater Gothenburg.