Gothenburg struggling to stop gang violence

Young people identified by Gothenburg authorities eight years ago as being at risk of joining gang violence have since continued to commit crimes, despite repeated interventions by Swedish social services, according to a report by Swedish public radio.

Gothenburg struggling to stop gang violence
Police are battling a rising problem of gang violence in Sweden. Photo: Vilhelm Stokstad/TT

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Sveriges radio's news programme Ekot studied a group of 11 people, who as early as 2007 were identified by Swedish authorities as being at risk of a life of heavy criminality.

The members of the group were between 15 and 18 years and lived in the Backa area on Hisingen, just over five kilometres from the fatal shooting at a Biskopsgården restaurant just a few months ago. Several of the youths had at the time in 2007 already received sentences for various offences, including assault.

Eight years later, five of the members have repeatedly continued to commit crimes despite involvement by several Swedish social authorities, according to Ekot.

“We have thought a lot about what it was that went wrong. But at the same time, they are individuals, it's always hard to generalize. If one had managed to get the top members to stop, then perhaps all would have quit. It's always easy when you have the benefit of hindsight,” Bengt-Olof Berggren, head of Gothenburg Council's working group against organized crime, told Ekot on Monday.

A string of high-profile killings since the start of the year has highlighted the rising problem of gang violence in Sweden's second-largest city.

Last month, a man in his twenties died after a shooting in Partille near the city, just days after another person was taken to hospital with multiple gunshot wounds after an attack in the Gamlestaden area of Gothenburg.

In April, two men were killed in less than 24 hours in the Hisingen and Angered areas of the city. This took place just a month after two people died and eight others were injured following a shooting in the Biskopsgården suburb, which made global headlines.

The incidents are still being investigated by police, but it is believed they were related to gang violence, which has sparked a national debate about gun crime in Gothenburg.

“Today, the gang environment is… I don't want to exactly call it the Wild West, but something in that direction,” Amir Rostami, a leading authority on Sweden's organized crime groups told The Local after the Biskopsgården shooting.

Last year 52 shootings were reported in Gothenburg. Four people died and 21 were wounded in the attacks.