Police ‘too slow’ to investigate child abuse

Police break the rules in taking too long to investigate sexual and violent abuse against children in Sweden, a review by the Dagens Nyheter (DN) newspaper shows.

Police 'too slow' to investigate child abuse

When children are victims of violence or sexual abuse in Sweden, an investigation must be launched within 90 days of the report, according to current rules.

In some cases, however, the incident has been put to one side and not investigated for several years, wrote DN.

“This concerns hundreds of children who are badly treated by the justice system,” said psychologist Åsa Landberg from Save the Children (Rädda Barn) to the paper.

“It doesn’t take much to understand what this means for the children.”

The worst area in the country is Falun in central Sweden, where 57 percent of cases take more than 90 days to be investigated. Southern Stockholm and Borås in western Sweden were also among the slowest to respond to child abuse reports, each taking too long in over 55 percent of cases.

In the first eight months of 2012, the police took more than 90 days before looking at potential child abuse cases in 36 percent of reports lodged nationwide.

“It’s up to the police to ensure the resources are there. This is about prioritizing these cases,” Landberg said.

Ulf Johansson of the south Stockholm police responded to the findings, stating that the results were “serious and unacceptable”.

“We have not done enough. This is why we’re decided to concentrate our efforts. No child will suffer because we haven’t had time to take care of their case,” he told DN.

Police now plan to get rid of their current queuing system by March 2013 in an effort to have a quicker investigation turn-around time.

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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.