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KIDNAPPING

Jenny, 30, feared kidnapped in Malmö

30-year-old Jenny Persson from Malmö, in southern Sweden, has been missing without a trace since she left her flat on August 1st without her credit cards, mobile phone or passport.

Jenny, 30, feared kidnapped in Malmö

“We simply have no idea where she is, “ said Björn Olsson of the local police, who are classifying the disappearance as a possible abduction, to newspaper Sydsvenskan.

According to her boyfriend, Jenny Persson, 30, left the flat that they share in central Malmö around 9am on August 1st. This is the last that is known of her whereabouts. When leaving, she told her boyfriend that she was going “to work”.

But apart from the boyfriend, no one else has seen Jenny since May, according to the local police. The only contact they have had with her is through text messages.

“There are definitely some peculiarities surrounding this case,” said Lars-Håkan Lindholm of the Skåne police information department to The Local.

According to Lindholm, Jenny had told all her friends and family, including the boyfriend, that she was working at the local hospital.

Her boyfriend said that she got up every morning and went to work. But police have found that this was not the case. Jenny hadn’t worked at the hospital since August last year.

When she hadn’t returned by August 2nd, she was reported missing by her boyfriend. Since then the police have been looking for clues as to what could have befallen her, but so far they haven’t come up with anything.

Police searched the couple’s flat to see if there were any signs that Jenny could have been forced away against her will but found no signs of coercion. Neither have they been able to find any indication that Jenny was planning to leave.

As Jenny didn’t bring her purse with her credit cards, her passport or her mobile phone, the police have no way of tracing her electronically.

So far they have spoke to her friends and family. The boyfriend has also been questioned a couple of times, but neither he, nor anyone else, is at present a suspect in the case.

“There are so far no indications that he has subjected her to a crime. This is as odd to him as it is to us,” Olsson told Sydsvenskan.

According to Lindholm it is slightly peculiar that Jenny hadn’t seen her family since May, but the fact that the boyfriend was last to see her doesn’t make him more of a suspect.

“But we are checking up on all the information given to us,” said Lindholm to The Local.

Jenny’s family are devastated by her disappearance and have started a Facebook thread where they are asking the public for help to find her.

“We are in despair. We miss her so much and want to know what has happened,” said mother Anita Persson to daily Aftonbladet.

According to Olsson it is not unusual for Swedes reported missing to the police to turn up unscathed.

“99 percent of these turn up very quickly. Many from the very small amount that don’t have chosen not to be in contact with their family any more. Then there is the last category of missing people who are victims of a crime, They are thankfully not many, but sadly it happens,” Olsson told Aftonbladet.

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SHOOTINGS

US criminologist lauds Malmö for anti-gang success

The US criminologist behind the anti-gang strategy designed to reduce the number of shootings and explosions in Malmö has credited the city and its police for the "utterly pragmatic, very professional, very focused" way they have put his ideas into practice.

US criminologist lauds Malmö for anti-gang success
Johan Nilsson/TT

In an online seminar with Malmö mayor Katrin Stjernfeldt Jammeh, David Kennedy, a professor at New York’s John Jay College of Criminal Justice, said implementing his Group Violence Intervention (GVI) strategy had gone extremely smoothly in the city.

“What really stands out about the Malmö experience is contrary to most of the places we work,” he said. “They made their own assessment of their situation on the ground, they looked at the intervention logic, they decided it made sense, and then, in a very rapid, focused and business-like fashion, they figured out how to do the work.”

He said that this contrasted with police and other authorities in most cities who attempt to implement the strategy, who tend to end up “dragging their feet”, “having huge amounts of political infighting”, and coming up with reasons why their city is too different from other cities where the strategy has been a success.

Malmö’s Sluta Skjut (Stop Shooting) pilot scheme was extended to a three-year programme this January, after its launch in 2018 coincided with a reduction in the number of shootings and explosions in the city.

“We think it’s a good medicine for Malmö for breaking the negative trend that we had,” Malmö police chief Stefan Sintéus said, pointing to the fall from 65 shootings in 2017 to 20 in 2020, and in explosions from 62 in 2017 to 17 in 2020.

A graph from Malmö police showing the reduction in the number of shootings from 2017 to 2020. Graph: Malmö Police
A graph from Malmö police showing the reduction in the number of explosions in the city between 2017 and 2020. Graph: Malmö Police

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In their second evaluation of the programme, published last month, Anna-Karin Ivert, Caroline Mellgren, and Karin Svanberg, three criminologists from Malmö University, reported that violent crime had declined significantly since the program came into force, and said that it was possible that the Sluta Skjut program was partly responsible, although it was difficult to judge exactly to what extent. 

The number of shootings had already started to decline before the scheme was launched, and in November 2019, Sweden’s national police launched Operation Rimfrost, a six-month crackdown on gang crime, which saw Malmö police reinforced by officers from across Sweden.

But Kennedy said he had “very little sympathy” for criminologists critical of the police’s decision to launch such a massive operation at the same time as Sluta Skjut, making it near impossible to evaluate the programme.

“Evaluation is there to improve public policy, public policy is not there to provide the basis for for sophisticated evaluation methodology,” he argued.

“When people with jobs to do, feel that they need to do things in the name of public safety, they should follow their professional, legal and moral judgement. Not doing something to save lives, because it’s going to create evaluation issues, I think, is simply privileging social science in a way that it doesn’t deserve.”

US criminologist David Kennedy partaking in the meeting. Photo: Richard Orange

Sluta Skjut has been based around so-called ‘call-ins’, in which known gang members on probation are asked to attend meetings, where law enforcement officials warn them that if shootings and explosions continue, they and the groups around them will be subject to intense focus from police.

At the same time, social workers and other actors in civil society offer help in leaving gang life.

Of the 250-300 young men who have been involved in the project, about 40 have been sent to prison, while 49 have joined Malmö’s ‘defector’ programme, which helps individuals leave gangs.

Kennedy warned not to focus too much on the number of those involved in the scheme who start to work with social services on leaving gang life.

“What we find in in practice is that most of the impact of this approach doesn’t come either because people go to prison or because they take services and leave gang life,” he said.

“Most of the impact comes from people simply putting their guns down and no longer being violent.”

“We think of the options as continuing to be extremely dangerous, or completely turning one’s life around. That’s not realistic in practice. Most of us don’t change that dramatically ever in our lives.”

He stressed the importance of informal social control in his method, reaching those who gang members love and respect, and encouraging them to put pressure on gang members to abstain from gun violence.

“We all care more about our mothers than we care about the police, and it turns out that if you can find the guy that this very high risk, very dangerous person respects – literally, you know, little old ladies will go up to him and get his attention and tell him to behave himself. And he will.”

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