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Police avoid internal reports for fear of media

Police often avoid filing accident reports following a 2011 ruling by a Swedish court determining the papers to be official documents and as such fair game for Swedish press.

Police avoid internal reports for fear of media

“Officers are often reporting mistakes they have made themselves and if that gets out in the media it doesn’t feel that great to file an accident report any more – and so they just stop doing it,” Mikael Kandelin, a police safety representative from western Sweden, told Sveriges Radio (SR).

When the broadcaster rang round to police safety ombudsmen across the country, they were given similar accounts of the situation.

Many officers no longer want to report mistakes, fearing that details will be spread to the media. The reports are official documents and as such – according to a court ruling from last year – they are fair game for any reporter.

Swedish news agency Siren, sifting through a large amount of official documents every day to extract those with news value to their customers, appealed last year to the Sweden’s Supreme Administrative Court (Högsta förvaltningsdomstolen) to get access to the police accident reports.

After winning the case, the agency has been providing newspapers and media outlets with information regarding these reports, but often obscuring from view any personal information about the officers involved.

However, according to the police principal safety ombudsman, the police still feel that the risk of personal details of officers being know to the media is still too extensive and therefore they choose not to file reports.

Stefan Holgersson of the Linköping University has researched police work processes and told the broadcaster that the fear of internal reports being reported in the media is part of an ongoing trend:

“The problem with the accident reports follows the same line as the unwillingness to account for how police processes are carried out. They try to build up a front and then maintain it,” he told SR.

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PROTESTS

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.

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