Swedish police ‘in crisis’ says union head

A major union for police officers in Sweden has described the country's police authority as "in crisis" in response to a report on how a large scale restructuring of the body is progressing.

Swedish police 'in crisis' says union head
A file photo of Swedish police officers. Photo: Tomas Oneborg/SvD/TT

The Swedish Police Union's comments follow the release of a government commissioned report from the Swedish Agency for Public Management (Statskontoret) into the reorganization of Sweden’s police.

Sweden previously had 21 county police forces, a National Police Board and National Laboratory of Forensic Science, but they were merged to form the Swedish Police Authority in January 2015.

The new body is headed by a government-appointed National Police Commissioner. Dan Eliasson, a former director of the Migration Agency and Sweden's Social Insurance Agency, is the first to take up the position.

The report into the merger is critical of, among other things, how new managerial appointments have been made, and says that local police work has not been prioritized sufficiently.

While the police union said it shared many of the conclusions in the study, it does not believe it is sufficiently critical.

“The danger in failing to realize that the police is in crisis is that sufficiently strong action to get out of it is not taken. Right now it is unclear who should take decisions and on what grounds, and that creates a problem in operational police work,” Swedish Police Union chairwoman Lena Nitz said.

The new merged authority is organized into seven regional subdivisions: North, Central, Bergslagen, East, West, South and Stockholm, and the merger has already caused some hiccups.

Last summer, patrols in the huge North region were sent to the wrong destinations on call-outs due to a lack of knowledge of the local area from employees at its regional command centre.

“From the beginning we have been critical that the biggest reorganization of the police since the 1960s has been launched without having managers in place throughout the whole organization. That has hurt the implementation of the new organization,” union head Nitz explained.

In contrast, the union which represents graduates working within the police, Sweden’s Confederation of Professional Associations (Saco), was less critical, saying it considers the report to paint a “nuanced picture of the situation in the police authority and the challenges it faces”.

This week’s report is the first of three into the changes at Sweden’s police, with a second due in a year, and the third and final installment to be released in the autumn of 2018.


Swedish opposition proposes ‘rapid tests for ADHD’ to cut gang crime

The Moderate Party in Stockholm has called for children in so called "vulnerable areas" to be given rapid tests for ADHD to increase treatment and cut gang crime.

Swedish opposition proposes 'rapid tests for ADHD' to cut gang crime

In a press release, the party proposed that treating more children in troubled city areas would help prevent gang crime, given that “people with ADHD diagnoses are “significantly over-represented in the country’s jails”. 

The idea is that children in so-called “vulnerable areas”, which in Sweden normally have a high majority of first and second-generation generation immigrants, will be given “simpler, voluntary tests”, which would screen for ADHD, with those suspected of having the neuropsychiatric disorder then put forward for proper evaluations to be given by a child psychiatrist. 

“The quicker you can put in place measures, the better the outcomes,” says Irene Svenonius, the party’s leader in the municipality, of ADHD treatment, claiming that children in Sweden with an immigrant background were less likely to be medicated for ADHD than other children in Sweden. 

In the press release, the party said that there were “significant differences in the diagnosis and treatment of ADHD within Stockholm country”, with Swedish-born children receiving diagnosis and treatment to a higher extent, and with ADHD “with the greatest probability” underdiagnosed in vulnerable areas. 

At a press conference, the party’s justice spokesman Johan Forsell, said that identifying children with ADHD in this areas would help fight gang crime. 

“We need to find these children, and that is going to help prevent crime,” he said. 

Sweden’s climate minister Annika Strandhäll accused the Moderates of wanting to “medicate away criminality”. 

Lotta Häyrynen, editor of the trade union-backed comment site Nya Mitten, pointed out that the Moderates’s claim to want to help children with neuropsychiatric diagnoses in vulnerable areas would be more credible if they had not closed down seven child and youth psychiatry units. 

The Moderate Party MP and debater Hanif Bali complained about the opposition from left-wing commentators and politicians.

“My spontaneous guess would have been that the Left would have thought it was enormously unjust that three times so many immigrant children are not getting a diagnosis or treatment compared to pure-Swedish children,” he said. “Their hate for the Right is stronger than their care for the children. 

Swedish vocab: brottsförebyggande – preventative of crime