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Malmö dwellers forced to deliver their own mail

As postal workers assigned to the Malmö district of Seved feel too threatened to carry out their duties, the residents themselves will now have to deliver their own post.

Malmö dwellers forced to deliver their own mail

”You do what you have to do, we have to solve it somehow. And we have no idea how it will work before we have tried, that’s how I look at it,” Swedish Postal Service (Posten) district manager Rolf Weiffert to local paper Skånska Dagbladet.

For months, Seved has been plagued by continuing problems.

Threatened postal workers in the area were forced to carry panic alarms and many residents say they don’t dare go out at night.

From February 1st, two residents in the area will help authorities deliver mail to some 500 households in the area.

The Posten and Malmö city will be co-operating on the project, which will begin as a 6 month trial project and focus on getting young people engaged in postal delivery, according to the newspaper.

“I’m satisfied,” Anders Malmquist, district manager with the city of Malmö, said.

“Young adults get an insight and an understanding of how it is to work in the postal service.”

The two young people who will deliver the letters are currently being recruited.

They will be employed for 12 months by Jobb Malmö, a community project, and get introductory education by the postal system, followed by an internship and, the plan is, eventual employment as a postal worker.

The municipality sees the venture mostly as a workforce project to steer the unemployed youth into work life, even if the idea itself stems from criminality and the lack of safety that has come to characterize the area.

The postal service denied that there was a need for new postal worker recruitment, but stated that the there was a danger of the postal service coming to a halt.

Since the police beefed up camera surveillance of the area in December, the number of incidents has decreased, but the district, which has 4,500 residents, has always had considerable social problems.

Half of the population is between 19 and 44 with a majority of foreigners.

Less than half of the adults have paid employment and the average income is low.

Youth gangs have taken over parts of the town and are engaged in more or less open drug trafficking.

In October, one postal vehicle was also subjected to an attempted robbery.

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SHOOTINGS

US criminologist lauds Malmö for anti-gang success

The US criminologist behind the anti-gang strategy designed to reduce the number of shootings and explosions in Malmö has credited the city and its police for the "utterly pragmatic, very professional, very focused" way they have put his ideas into practice.

US criminologist lauds Malmö for anti-gang success
Johan Nilsson/TT

In an online seminar with Malmö mayor Katrin Stjernfeldt Jammeh, David Kennedy, a professor at New York’s John Jay College of Criminal Justice, said implementing his Group Violence Intervention (GVI) strategy had gone extremely smoothly in the city.

“What really stands out about the Malmö experience is contrary to most of the places we work,” he said. “They made their own assessment of their situation on the ground, they looked at the intervention logic, they decided it made sense, and then, in a very rapid, focused and business-like fashion, they figured out how to do the work.”

He said that this contrasted with police and other authorities in most cities who attempt to implement the strategy, who tend to end up “dragging their feet”, “having huge amounts of political infighting”, and coming up with reasons why their city is too different from other cities where the strategy has been a success.

Malmö’s Sluta Skjut (Stop Shooting) pilot scheme was extended to a three-year programme this January, after its launch in 2018 coincided with a reduction in the number of shootings and explosions in the city.

“We think it’s a good medicine for Malmö for breaking the negative trend that we had,” Malmö police chief Stefan Sintéus said, pointing to the fall from 65 shootings in 2017 to 20 in 2020, and in explosions from 62 in 2017 to 17 in 2020.

A graph from Malmö police showing the reduction in the number of shootings from 2017 to 2020. Graph: Malmö Police
A graph from Malmö police showing the reduction in the number of explosions in the city between 2017 and 2020. Graph: Malmö Police

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In their second evaluation of the programme, published last month, Anna-Karin Ivert, Caroline Mellgren, and Karin Svanberg, three criminologists from Malmö University, reported that violent crime had declined significantly since the program came into force, and said that it was possible that the Sluta Skjut program was partly responsible, although it was difficult to judge exactly to what extent. 

The number of shootings had already started to decline before the scheme was launched, and in November 2019, Sweden’s national police launched Operation Rimfrost, a six-month crackdown on gang crime, which saw Malmö police reinforced by officers from across Sweden.

But Kennedy said he had “very little sympathy” for criminologists critical of the police’s decision to launch such a massive operation at the same time as Sluta Skjut, making it near impossible to evaluate the programme.

“Evaluation is there to improve public policy, public policy is not there to provide the basis for for sophisticated evaluation methodology,” he argued.

“When people with jobs to do, feel that they need to do things in the name of public safety, they should follow their professional, legal and moral judgement. Not doing something to save lives, because it’s going to create evaluation issues, I think, is simply privileging social science in a way that it doesn’t deserve.”

US criminologist David Kennedy partaking in the meeting. Photo: Richard Orange

Sluta Skjut has been based around so-called ‘call-ins’, in which known gang members on probation are asked to attend meetings, where law enforcement officials warn them that if shootings and explosions continue, they and the groups around them will be subject to intense focus from police.

At the same time, social workers and other actors in civil society offer help in leaving gang life.

Of the 250-300 young men who have been involved in the project, about 40 have been sent to prison, while 49 have joined Malmö’s ‘defector’ programme, which helps individuals leave gangs.

Kennedy warned not to focus too much on the number of those involved in the scheme who start to work with social services on leaving gang life.

“What we find in in practice is that most of the impact of this approach doesn’t come either because people go to prison or because they take services and leave gang life,” he said.

“Most of the impact comes from people simply putting their guns down and no longer being violent.”

“We think of the options as continuing to be extremely dangerous, or completely turning one’s life around. That’s not realistic in practice. Most of us don’t change that dramatically ever in our lives.”

He stressed the importance of informal social control in his method, reaching those who gang members love and respect, and encouraging them to put pressure on gang members to abstain from gun violence.

“We all care more about our mothers than we care about the police, and it turns out that if you can find the guy that this very high risk, very dangerous person respects – literally, you know, little old ladies will go up to him and get his attention and tell him to behave himself. And he will.”

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