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CRIME

Copper thieves target Sweden’s churches

Tourists and church-goers are not the only ones to be drawn to Sweden's many attractive copper-roofed churches.

A surge of copper thefts have left the country’s churches reeling.

“We’ve seen a sharp increase during 2011,” Leif Eriksson, CEO of Kyrkans Försäkring, the insurance company in charge of insuring 60 percent of Sweden’s churches, told The Local on Monday.

“Thefts increase every year, but this year they’ve really taken off,” he said.

In 2010, a total of 27 copper thefts were reported, costing churches a damage cost of 1.3 million kronor ($198,000). So far in 2011, 26 thefts have already been registered, at a total cost of 1.8 million kronor.

The roofs are expensive to rebuild, and replacing a roof containing 30,000 kronor worth of copper can cost as much as 500,000 kronor.

Copper is an attractive material, and more and more churches are now looking to replace the stolen goods with some other material, of less interest to potential thieves.

Leif Eriksson believes that smaller parts, such as copper drainpipes, may come to be replaced with other materials when the copper has been stolen repeatedly.

Copper roofs however, are hard to avoid, as many churches are protected buildings falling under cultural heritage regulations, where the original material must be used when renovating.

“There’s a heavy pressure on churches to have copper roofs,” said Eriksson.

He hopes that publicising the growing problem will lead to a change in future.

“We have to trumpet this in papers, and make the public more aware. People need to know to call the police if they see anything strange.”

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POLITICS

Swedish KD 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 KD 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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