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Gun laws may be tightened: minister

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Gun laws may be tightened: minister
10:40 CET+01:00
Sweden's minister for justice, Beatrice Ask, says Swedish weapons laws will be looked over, after recent events in Malmö where five people have been shot within the space of a month.

”The previous report didn't see a reason to change the law. I am not happy with that and we are looking into it at the moment,” Ask told news agency TT.

The Chairman for the Committee on Justice, Social Democrat Morgan Johansson, has been demanding that Ask does something about the situation.

"This is really scary. It is about time now that the fight against organized crime becomes a national responsibility. This is not a local or regional issue," he said.

"The National Police Board has to be given more resources. There is currently 30 police officers working with this case. We have proposed an additional 100 million kronor ($14.6 million), which would mean that 130 officers can work with these questions."

Johansson also suggests to increase penalties for illegal possession of firearms from six months to one year in prison, which would make the crime serious enough in the eyes of the law for police to be allowed to use phone surveillance to catch suspects.

Beatrice Ask agrees that the latest rise in violence in the region is very serious and she agrees with Johansson that this is a national problem. However, she is not interested in the reorganisation of the Swedish police.

”We have a number of incidents when people have been gunned down on the streets of Malmö. It is important to focus on that situation and the concern experienced by Malmö residents. It is the long term work that is my main objective,” she said to TT.

A proposition for tougher weapons legislation in Sweden may see the light of day as soon as this spring, according to Ask. However, she was not willing to elaborate on what this may entail.

Swedish criminologist Jerzy Sarnecki believes two things are crucial in order to regain control of the crime wave in Malmö.

Short term, the authorities need to combat the widespread use of illegal firearms, and long term he suggests efforts such as those being made in Södertälje south of Stockholm.

"The community [in Södertälje] was totally right to put in large police resources, but also from the Tax Agency, the Social Insurance Agency and the Social Services Department. In Södertälje the situation, at least for the time being, has improved significantly."

Meanwhile, Malmö police are now receiving support from all over the country, according to local chief of police Eva Årestad.

”Malmö is Sweden's priority number one right now,” Årestad said to TT.

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