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Children ‘as young as nine’ caught robbing people in Stockholm

Police have raised concern after groups of youths aged under 15 – one thought to be as young as nine – were caught robbing or trying to rob people in Stockholm last night.

Children 'as young as nine' caught robbing people in Stockholm
File photo of a police officer. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT

A reveller reported being robbed of their mobile phone at a bar in the popular Södermalm district of Stockholm at around 2am on Monday, getting hit in the face when trying to get their phone back. The victim did not need an ambulance, said police. The suspects, two young boys, ran off but were caught by police.

An hour later youths on a bike tried to rob another person, also on Södermalm, armed with a “knife-like object”, said police. No one was injured and the robbery attempt was unsuccessful, but four young suspects were later seized by police in central Stockholm.

All six were handed over to social services. Police officers in the Södermalm area wrote on Twitter that they were all younger than 15, one believed to be young as nine.

“The youngest was nine years old. Tried to rob using brass knuckles,” they tweeted.

The identities of the children were not disclosed, but Swedish authorities have previously raised concern about around 800 teenagers from North African countries sleeping rough in the country, according to figures from a police report from 2015.

“I'm not talking about these individual cases now but in general we can say that we have had an issue in Stockholm City over the last five to six years, concerning young people who commit crimes and fairly often do not have a custodian,” Elisabeth Anestad, deputy head of the Stockholm City police district, told Swedish news agency TT on Monday.

She said many of these children return to the street even after being caught by police, but it is rare that perpetrators are younger than 15. There is no recent overall rise in these crimes, she said, rather a coincidence that a couple of robberies were reported in one evening.

“There are what we would call 'street children'. Children who are on the outside of Swedish society and are not involved in any kind of process, then you are completely unprotected and very vulnerable. It's not just that you can commit crimes but you are also easily the target of crimes,” Anestad told TT.

Sweden has struggled to repatriate the children, who arrive in the country without parents and often succumb to drug abuse, because in many cases their home countries refuse to accept them, even in cases when the children themselves want to go back.

However, after striking a deal with Morocco the country is now letting more of them return home. In the first five months of this year a total of 82 young Moroccan street children were sent back, compared to 35 last year and only eight the year before, according to the justice ministry.

CRIME

Swedish Green leader: ‘Easter riots nothing to do with religion or ethnicity’

The riots that rocked Swedish cities over the Easter holidays were nothing to do with religion or ethnicity, but instead come down to class, the joint leader of Sweden's Green Party has told The Local in an interview.

Swedish Green leader: 'Easter riots nothing to do with religion or ethnicity'

Ahead of a visit to the school in Rosengård that was damaged in the rioting, Märta Stenevi said that neither the Danish extremist Rasmus Paludan, who provoked the riots by burning copies of the Koran, nor those who rioted, injuring 104 policemen, were ultimately motivated by religion. 

“His demonstration had nothing to do with religion or with Islam. It has everything to do with being a right extremist and trying to to raise a lot of conflict between groups in Sweden,” she said of Paludan’s protests. 

“On the other side, the police have now stated that there were a lot of connections to organised crime and gangs, who see this as an opportunity to raise hell within their communities.”

Riots broke out in the Swedish cities of Malmö, Stockholm, Norrköping, Linköping and Landskrona over the Easter holidays as a result of Paludan’s tour of the cities, which saw him burn multiple copies of the Koran, the holy book of Islam. 

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More than 100 police officers were injured in the riots, sparking debates about hate-crime legislation and about law and order. 

According to Stenevi, the real cause of the disorder is the way inequality has increased in Sweden in recent decades. 

“If you have big chasms between the rich people and poor people in a country, you will also have a social upheaval and social disturbance. This is well-documented all across the world,” she says. 
 
“What we have done for the past three decades in Sweden is to create a wider and wider gap between those who have a lot and those who have nothing.” 

 
The worst way of reacting to the riots, she argues, is that of Sweden’s right-wing parties. 
 
“You cannot do it by punishment, by adding to the sense of outsider status, you have to start working on actually including people, and that happens through old-fashioned things such as education, and a proper minimum income, to lift people out of their poverty, not to keep them there.”

This, she says, is “ridiculous”, when the long-term solution lies in doing what Sweden did to end extreme inequality at the start of the 20th century, when it created the socialist folkhem, or “people’s home”. 

“It’s easy to forget that 100 to 150 years ago, Sweden was a developing country, with a huge class of poor people with no education whatsoever. And we did this huge lift of a whole nation. And we can do this again,” she says. “But it needs resources, it needs political will.” 
 
 
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