“Suspected pick-pocketer at Mariatorget metro station tonight. Dark-haired, 175 centimetres, ’Humphrey Bogart hat’ on his head. East European appearance,” read a tweet on the @YBSödermalm Twitter account late on Tuesday night.
Very soon after the tweet had been posted, the twittersphere erupted with criticism of the issued description.
“How much help does such a description give, do you think? And what does such a man look like? Like Fyodor Dostoyevsky? Like Viktor Tikhonov,” one tweeter asked.
Viktor Adolphson of the Södermalm police, one of the two officers in charge of the account, thinks that too much has been made of the description, which he describes as “fairly harmless”:
“Of course it isn’t ideal, but it is the description we had,” he told news agency TT.
According to Adolphson the station followed the guidelines as set out by the National Police Board (Rikspolisstyrelsen) when they issued the perpetrator’s description.
“It is OK as long as you don’t point your finger at a specific country, or group, like the Roma people for example,” said Adolphson to TT.
When asked about what “east European looks” means, Adolphson said that the descriptions are used more to rule out other distinguishing factors in suspects’ appearances.
“Then you might not look for darker skinned, Asian or what is perceived as northern European-looking perpetrators,” said Adolphson to TT.
Adolphson does not think that the description issued was in any way offensive:
“To make this into being offensive to a specific group of people would be to seriously read too much into it,” he said.
The tweet from Södermalm police
Misstänkt ficktjuv vid T-banan Mariatorget ikväll. Mörkhårig, 175cm, mörk jacka, “Humphrey Bogarthatt” på huvudet. Östeuropeiskt utseende.
— YB Sodermalm (@YB_Sodermalm) September 25, 2012
The @YBSödermalm account, operated by officers Viktor Adolphson and Johan Säfström, has previously courted controversy when the officers tweeted the description “Romani appearance” in July, an action that forced them to make a formal apology.
Another instance when the officers were forced to explain their actions was when Säfström expressed support for the Stockholm football team AIK in connection with a match.