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CRIME

Malmö police chief: ‘Help us’

After a wave of violence in Sweden's third city, police boss Stefan Sintéus has appealed to residents in Malmö: "Help us. Help us to tackle the problems. Cooperate with us."

Malmö police chief: 'Help us'
Police investigating the shooting in Rosengård. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

In an opinion piece published by regional newspaper Sydsvenskan, he describes an “upward spiral of violence of great proportions” in the city, where police are currently dealing with 11 ongoing murder investigations and around 80 attempted murders.

However, he still feels confident, writing that Sweden's national police have sent in backup, with more investigators to come, and local and regional police have stepped up their work.

Two recent murders in particular have left investigators perplexed: the fatal shootings of a 24-year-old dentist in December and a 16-year-old student in Rosengård this month.

In both cases, there is nothing to suggest the victims were involved in any criminal activity and they had no known enemies, sparking concerns among Malmö residents of another potential serial killer in the city.

Serial shooter Peter Mangs kept Malmö in fear during a number of months in 2009-2010, targeting people of immigrant background. He was eventually convicted of two murders and eight attempted murders and sentenced to life in prison.

Police have not found anything indicating that another serial shooter could be operating in Malmö, but are investigating the trail anyway in order to be able to rule it out.

A national expert team focused on criminal profiling has been called in to help investigate this.

Sintéus described it as “one of the motives we're working on because we want to close that door” in an interview with Swedish public radio.

One of the biggest problems for the police is finding witnesses willing to talk.

In the case of the murdered 16-year-old, for example, racist threats have been directed at pupils at his school on social media next to a picture of the boy lying dead on the ground.

“They are scared. They are terrified and are wondering who's going to be shot next,” a school principal told Sydsvenskan earlier this month.

CRIME

Sweden breaks yearly record for fatal shootings

A man was shot to death in Kristianstad, Skåne, late on Thursday night. He is the 48th person to be shot dead in Sweden this year, meaning that the previous record for most fatal shootings in one year set in 2020 has now been broken.

Sweden breaks yearly record for fatal shootings

“Unfortunately we can’t say more than that he’s in his twenties and we have no current suspects,” duty officer Mikael Lind told TT newswire.

According to police statistics, this most recent deadly shooting means that 48 people have been shot to death in 2022, meaning that Sweden has broken a new record for deadly shootings per year.

Earlier this week, Sweden’s police chief Anders Thornberg said that this number is likely to rise even higher before the end of the year.

“It looks like we’re going to break the record this year,” he told TT on Tuesday. “That means – if it continues at the same pace – around 60 deadly shootings.”

“If it ends up being such a large increase that would be very unusual,” said Manne Gerell, criminiologist at Malmö University.

“We saw a large increase between 2017 and 2018, and we could see the same now, as we’re on such low figures in Sweden. But it’s still worrying that it’s increasing by so much over such a short time period,” he said.

There also seems to be an upwards trend in the number of shootings overall during 2022. 273 shootings had occured by September 1st this year, compared with 344 for the whole of 2021 and 379 for the whole of 2020.

If shootings continue at this rate for the rest of 2022, it is likely that the total number for the year would be higher than 2021 and 2020. There are, however, fewer injuries.

“The majority of shootings cause no injuries, but this year, mortality has increased substantially,” Gerell explained. “There aren’t more people being shot, but when someone is shot, they’re more likely to die.”

Thursday’s shooting took place in Kristianstad, but it’s only partially true that deadly gun violence is becoming more common in smaller cities.

“It’s moved out somewhat to smaller cities, but we’re overexaggerating that effect,” Gerell said. “We’re forgetting that there have been shootings in other small cities in previous years.”

A report from the Crime Prevention Council (Brå) presented last spring showed that Sweden, when compared with 22 different countries in Europe, was the only one with an upwards trend for deadly shootings.

Temporary increases can be seen during some years in a few countries, but there were no countries which showed such a clear increase as Sweden has seen for multiple years in a row, according to Brå.

The Swedish upwards trend for deadly gun violence began in the beginning of the 2000s, but the trend took off in 2013 and has continued to increase since.

Eight of ten deadly shootings take place in criminal environments, the study showed. The Swedish increase has taken place in principle only among the 20-29 year old age group.

When police chief Anders Thornberg was asked how the trend can be broken, he said that new recruitments are one of the most important factors.

“The most important thing is to break recruitment, make sure we can listen encrypted and that we can get to the profits of crime in a better way,” he said.

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