News of the registry’s existence was revealed on Monday by the Dagens Nyheter newspaper and was initially denied by the local police authorities. Later in the morning, however police from Skåne County confirmed the registry existed, but stated that it was not sanctioned by police management.
In a press conference later that afternoon, police announced they had reported themselves to the police for creating the registry.
“The criticism is so serious that we are making a police report and launching a judicial review over this,” Klas Johansson of the Skåne police said. “I feel very strongly that we should not have a register involving small children,” he added.
Deputy Chief of Police Petra Stenkula said that the register was built up around a number of criminals in the Roma community, but that officers added the personal details about people who were not suspected of any crimes.
She added that the material needed to be destroyed.
Sweden’s National Police Commissioner Bengt Svenson demanded that all of the country’s police heads go over their own databases.
“I hope and pray to god that this is the only registry of this kind,” he said at the press conference.
“It’s upsetting. This is completely unacceptable and I cannot understand the purpose of it,” he added.
Police suspect that DN was not alone among media organizations that had been made aware of the registry, but said that it searching for leaks wasn’t a priority.
“We’re not planning to put time into investigating who was the source, it means our democracy is working,” Johansson said.
News of the registry has shocked ministers across the country, some of whom have made calls to action.
“I’m shocked, as I know our laws and rules are very clear when it comes to how police handle people’s personal information,” Justice Minister Beatrice Ask told the TT news agency.
“I have demanded a thorough investigation into what is actual fact and how this will be handled.”
Integration Minister Erik Ullenhag was also unimpressed.
“This is upsetting, to say the least. Registration based on ethnic background is illegal and does not belong in a society based on the rule of law,” he said.
The Equality Ombudsman (Diskrimineringsombudsmannen -DO) will also launch an investigation to determine whether the people on the registry were subjected to any kind of discrimination based on the police list.
According to lawyers interviewed by DN, the database breaks a number of laws, including the European Convention on Human Rights, police data laws, and the law against general police surveillance registries.