Drunken Christmas revellers keep cops busy

The night between Christmas Day and Boxing Day kept Swedish police officers busy with plenty of drunkenness and several brawls.

“It’s the same old Christmas mess every year, with so many people going out,” said the Jönköping police force’s press spokesman Jan Lagerqvist to the TT news agency.

The evening of December 25 sees many Swedes flocking to pubs, as those who’re back in their home town for the holidays take the chance to reunite with old school friends, and the night tends to be a busy one for police officers.

While both Kalmar and Jämtland police forces reported an unusually calm “homecoming” evening, the Jönköping police were kept on their toes with 15 cases of assault and some 50 cases of drunkenness.

“It’s been messy but still somehow under control,” said Lagerqvist.

In Skåne, 19 persons were taken into custody for drunkenness during the night, and 27 assault cases were reported. Somewhat lower than last year’s Christmas, concludes the Skåne police force’s spokesman Jimmy Modin.

“But there’s still been quite a bit of drunkenness and mess. Just like a regular pay day,” he said.

At 4am on Wednesday, police were alerted to an out-of-control Christmas party at a motor club in Kungälv, in southern Sweden. The police left the club, only to return again at 5:30am to the 20 or so revelers.

One was taken into custody, and two charges of assault were reported, although no one was seriously injured according to the police.

The night was relatively calm in Halland, Kronoberg and Kalmar, but four were arrested for drunk driving, and several intoxicated persons were taken in to the police station to sleep it off.

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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.