Juvenile offenders work off their foul play

Sweden’s juvenile offenders are increasingly sentenced to community service rather than juvenile detention or paying fines related to damages, according to an assessment by the National Council (Brottsförebyggande rådet - Brå).

Juvenile offenders work off their foul play

Youth offenders in Sweden are more often sentenced to community service (ungdomstjänst) by the courts while the proportion of convicted young people doing time in a detention centre or paying fines has sharply declined, according to the National Council’s recent assessment of penalty reform for juvenile offenders.

“The courts have been able to sentence youth criminals to youth service as a sole sanction for a few years. We see now that the reform has brought results – the percentage of people sentenced to juvenile detention has almost halved while the proportion who receive a fine also has fallen sharply,” said Jonas Öberg, an investigator at the National Council in a statement.

The sanction of community service for the young, in the form of unpaid work, was introduced to the court system in 2007 as a separate sentence option for young offenders between 15- and 17-years-old.

A year later, judges dole out youth community service to more than four in 10 convicted youth offenders.

“Nine out of ten young people who receive the sentence complete it. Interviews with those youth suggest that they are satisfied and believe the penalty is better than fines. However, there is a long wait time to carry out youth service in many communities,” Öberg said.

Prior to the emergence of this type of ‘free labour’ sanction, juvenile detention was the most popular penalty issued by the courts for young offenders.

Back then, almost half of the juvenile offenders received some form of rehabilitation treatment. Now, the number staggers at less than a quarter.

Although the Council states that this decrease is in line with reform intentions, the reform law does not appear to be applied equally throughout the country.

Officials grapple with the more stringent requirements to sentence a youth to rehabilitative care while also debating what defines a reform need.

There are large variations between the country’s district courts, ranging from 10 to 50 percent, who are sentenced to some type of care.

”This means that the National Council should consider the need for national guidelines. That would make it easier for social services and it would lead to a more consistent implementation across the nation,” Öberg said.

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Sweden breaks yearly record for fatal shootings

A man was shot to death in Kristianstad, Skåne, late on Thursday night. He is the 48th person to be shot dead in Sweden this year, meaning that the previous record for most fatal shootings in one year set in 2020 has now been broken.

Sweden breaks yearly record for fatal shootings

“Unfortunately we can’t say more than that he’s in his twenties and we have no current suspects,” duty officer Mikael Lind told TT newswire.

According to police statistics, this most recent deadly shooting means that 48 people have been shot to death in 2022, meaning that Sweden has broken a new record for deadly shootings per year.

Earlier this week, Sweden’s police chief Anders Thornberg said that this number is likely to rise even higher before the end of the year.

“It looks like we’re going to break the record this year,” he told TT on Tuesday. “That means – if it continues at the same pace – around 60 deadly shootings.”

“If it ends up being such a large increase that would be very unusual,” said Manne Gerell, criminiologist at Malmö University.

“We saw a large increase between 2017 and 2018, and we could see the same now, as we’re on such low figures in Sweden. But it’s still worrying that it’s increasing by so much over such a short time period,” he said.

There also seems to be an upwards trend in the number of shootings overall during 2022. 273 shootings had occured by September 1st this year, compared with 344 for the whole of 2021 and 379 for the whole of 2020.

If shootings continue at this rate for the rest of 2022, it is likely that the total number for the year would be higher than 2021 and 2020. There are, however, fewer injuries.

“The majority of shootings cause no injuries, but this year, mortality has increased substantially,” Gerell explained. “There aren’t more people being shot, but when someone is shot, they’re more likely to die.”

Thursday’s shooting took place in Kristianstad, but it’s only partially true that deadly gun violence is becoming more common in smaller cities.

“It’s moved out somewhat to smaller cities, but we’re overexaggerating that effect,” Gerell said. “We’re forgetting that there have been shootings in other small cities in previous years.”

A report from the Crime Prevention Council (Brå) presented last spring showed that Sweden, when compared with 22 different countries in Europe, was the only one with an upwards trend for deadly shootings.

Temporary increases can be seen during some years in a few countries, but there were no countries which showed such a clear increase as Sweden has seen for multiple years in a row, according to Brå.

The Swedish upwards trend for deadly gun violence began in the beginning of the 2000s, but the trend took off in 2013 and has continued to increase since.

Eight of ten deadly shootings take place in criminal environments, the study showed. The Swedish increase has taken place in principle only among the 20-29 year old age group.

When police chief Anders Thornberg was asked how the trend can be broken, he said that new recruitments are one of the most important factors.

“The most important thing is to break recruitment, make sure we can listen encrypted and that we can get to the profits of crime in a better way,” he said.