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Swedish police stealing confiscated goods

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08:49 CEST+02:00
Valuables worth hundreds of thousands of kronor left in police custody have disappeared in recent years, leading officials to conclude that police employees have been pilfering the goods, according to reports in the Swedish media.

In 82 cases over the past five years, the police have had to reimburse people for money and valuables stolen while in police custody, reported national TV channel Sveriges Television (SVT) on Tuesday.

A total sum of 334,470 kronor ($53,000) in compensation has been paid by the National Police Agency (Rikspolisstyrelsen).

Head of the agency Bengt Svensson said to SVT that he is disappointed that the police force has "that type of employees".

Thus far, the police have been reported 128 times in 2011 for goods that have gone missing following confiscation by police.

"We suspect that money is missing in 15 of these 128 cases, and in 39 cases other items are gone, such as mobile phones," Jan Friberg of the internal investigation department at the National Police said to news agency TT.

He doesn't know if the suspected thefts are increasing, nor how many cases have led to prosecution.

Kalle Wallin, the agency's administrative head, sees the many reports as a severe problem. Even though suspected cash thefts are relatively few, he considers them unacceptable.

"Every single case in which a police employee commits a crime is miserable, and a failure for the force. It hurts the public's confidence in our organisation," he said to TT.

According to Wallin, the National Police Board has already taken measures to reduce the alleged thefts, including information, new guidelines, and inspections.

"Now we're going to carry out further inspections, to find the flaws in our system," he said.

Minister for justice Beatrice Ask agrees that the thefts are a grave problem.

"My view is the same as the head of the police agency: obviously, such things shouldn't occur," said the minister to TT.

She added that the police are best suited to finding methods to resolve this problem, and emphasised the importance of minimizing incidents.

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