Halloween revelers keep Swedish police busy

The recent payday, Halloween, and a concert by hip hop star 50 Cent proved to be a recipe for an extra messy weekend for police around Sweden.

“It’s been hell to be honest,” Tony Persson with Gävleborgs police told the TT news agency.

His colleague, Anders Jönsson in Stockholm, suspected the relatively warm weekend weather might have contributed to people staying out later, and consuming even more alcohol.

“People were lying in piles and we were running shuttles back and forth,” he told TT.

In Malmö in southern Sweden, nearly 200 police reports were filed, but police refused to speculate about whether they had any connection to the warmer weather or Halloween.

“The only things that can be directly connected to Halloween are two cases of egg tossing at houses and one at a bus,” Cindy Schönström Larsson at Skåne police said.

About 50 cases of drunkenness were reported, as well as 30 cases of assault. There were also ten reported muggings, half of which occured Malmö.

One person was taken to hospital after being assaulted, and two muggers forced a 76-year-old man to reveal his ATM code, promptly emptying his account of than 10,000 kronor ($1,600).

Also in Gävleborg in north central Sweden police had a rough weekend.

On Friday, the international rap star 50 Cent performed in Sandviken, and the aftermath became a rough one for police, who apprehended 17 drunks. And the following night also offered some action, when three people were arrested and 28 apprehended in just a few hours.

“Halloween celebrations and pay day, it was a miserable weekend,” Tony Persson told TT.

In Uppsala just north of Stockholm 35 people were apprehended, compared to 25 which is the normal number for a weekend, Tommy Karlsson at Uppsala police explained to TT.

“It has been a little more intoxication than normal, but less crime. Less assault and less vandalism,” he said.

In the Västerås area in the northern parts of Lake Mälaren, police instead experienced more vandalism than usual, and they also had to break off more parties and act as negotiators when “trick-or-treating” got out of hand.

“Considering it was pay day and the beginning of autumn break we expect a little more,” duty officer Jimmy Lindvall told TT.

“And of course we could feel it was a weekend with a somewhat higher workload.”

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Calls for special police tactics to be available across Sweden

The chairwoman of the Police Association West Region has said that police special tactics, known as Särskild polistaktik or SPT, should be available across Sweden, to use in demonstrations similar to those during the Easter weekend.

Calls for special police tactics to be available across Sweden

SPT, (Särskild polistaktik), is a tactic where the police work with communication rather than physical measures to reduce the risk of conflicts during events like demonstrations.

Tactics include knowledge about how social movements function and how crowds act, as well as understanding how individuals and groups act in a given situation. Police may attempt to engage in collaboration and trust building, which they are specially trained to do.

Katharina von Sydow, chairwoman of the Police Association West Region, told Swedish Radio P4 West that the concept should exist throughout the country.

“We have nothing to defend ourselves within 10 to 15 metres. We need tools to stop this type of violent riot without doing too much damage,” she said.

SPT is used in the West region, the South region and in Stockholm, which doesn’t cover all the places where the Easter weekend riots took place.

In the wake of the riots, police unions and the police’s chief safety representative had a meeting with the National Police Chief, Anders Tornberg, and demanded an evaluation of the police’s work. Katharina von Sydow now hopes that the tactics will be introduced everywhere.

“This concept must exist throughout the country”, she said.

During the Easter weekend around 200 people were involved in riots after a planned demonstration by anti-Muslim Danish politician Rasmus Paludan and his party Stram Kurs (Hard Line), that included the burning of the Muslim holy book, the Koran.

Police revealed on Friday that at least 104 officers were injured in counter-demonstrations that they say were hijacked by criminal gangs intent on targeting the police. 

Forty people were arrested and police are continuing to investigate the violent riots for which they admitted they were unprepared. 

Paludan’s application for another demonstration this weekend was rejected by police.

In Norway on Saturday, police used tear gas against several people during a Koran-burning demonstration after hundreds of counter-demonstrators clashed with police in the town of Sandefjord.