Swedish police sent loaded rifle by post

Police in Örnsköldsvik, in the north of Sweden, recently sent a loaded rifle through the post to the forensic laboratory for analysis.

”These things happen now and again, unfortunately,” said Tore Olsson at the Swedish National Laboratory of Forensic Science (Statens kriminaltekniska laboratorium – SKL) in Linköping to daily Dagens Nyheter.

Police officers in Örnsköldsvik had received the hunting rifle late last year, but hadn’t got around to sending it in for analysis until recently. After the lab in Linköping was finished with it, the weapon was to be either re-sold or destroyed.

However, when the forensic scientists unpacked it, they discovered it was loaded with live ammunition.

”It was lucky that nothing happened and we are treating it as a very serious matter that the weapon was sent off without anyone checking if it was loaded,” police officer Dick Danielsson at the Örnsköldsvik station told the paper.

Danielsson has subsequently reported the incident to the Work Environment Authority (Arbetsmiljöverket) and a committee has been appointed to review routines for weapon handling. All personnel will also receive further training.

According to DN, a similar incident occurred in May when another loaded gun arrived at the lab, that time from Halland in western Sweden.

Since then, the lab has issued guidelines about weapons handling and has stressed that the onus is on officers to make sure that weapons are safe before they are sent off.

”Luckily no one on our staff has been injured so far in connection with these loaded weapons, but our personnel are very thorough and don’t take anything for granted before they have been checked,” Larsson told DN.

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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.