Sweden promises better protection for police after string of attacks

The Swedish government wants to better protect the country's police officers, with Justice Minister Morgan Johansson outlining plans to crack down further on gang crime.

Sweden promises better protection for police after string of attacks
Police stand outside an officer's home which was shot on Saturday. Photo: TT

His statements come in the wake of several attacks on police stations and officers' homes.

On Saturday, a man was arrested for attempted murder in Västerås after firing at least 12 shots at a police officer’s home, and on the same night a police station in Växjö, southern Sweden was attacked with fireworks and cobblestones.

Earlier this month, a police station in the southern Swedish city of Helsingborg was badly damaged by a powerful explosion, and in August, a man stabbed a police officer in an unprovoked attack in the centre of Stockholm. Several of these attacks are thought to be linked to local gangs.

Politicians have condemned the attack in Västerås, with the biggest opposition party, the Moderates, calling for harsher penalties and tougher gun laws.

“It is extremely important that we show how seriously we take this gang crime,” the Moderates' legal spokesman Tomas Tobé, who is also chairman of the Justice Committee, told the TT news agency. “The police also need to get more support than they have today. We need to get political changes that show that we are standing up for Swedish police.”

The Swedish Police Union has also raised concerns over the rise of violence, and noted that it could lead to people leaving the profession. A survey carried out by the union showed that 70 percent of police officers believe vulnerability has increased over the past two years.

An investigation known as Blue Light is currently underway to examine the possibility of giving police increased compensation for offences at work. “We're working with the directive of the investigation and it will come in a few weeks,” Justice Minister Morgan Johansson told Dagens Nyheter.

Johansson said the government had already increased punishments for around 30 crimes, including harsher threats for threats made with allusion to gang membership, and violence and drugs offences.

In addition, the penalty for serious firearms offences will be increased on January 1st next year, making it possible to detain suspects, as well as to carry out wire-tapping.



Attacker ‘severely disturbed’ during stabbing at Swedish political festival

Theodor Engström, the 33-year-old man who stabbed psychiatrist Ing-Marie Wieselgren to death at the Almedalen political festival in July, was seriously psychiatrically disturbed at the time of his attack, forensic psychiatrists have ruled.

Attacker 'severely disturbed' during stabbing at Swedish political festival

According to the Hela Gotland newspaper the Swedish National Board of Forensic Medicine has ruled that the man was so disturbed at the time of his attack he had lost the ability to understand the consequences of his actions, and has as a result recommended that he be given psychiatric treatment rather than a prison term.

The agency said that Engström had still been disturbed at the time he was given psychiatric assessment, and warned that there was a risk that Engström would commit further criminal acts. 

“This is a question which has relevance at a future stage,” said prosecutor Henrik Olin. “It means he cannot be sentenced to jail, but will instead receive psychiatric care. But it is not going to change how the investigation is carried out.” 

READ ALSO: What do we know about the Almedalen knife attack?

Engström stabbed Wieselgren, who worked as psychiatric coordinator for the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions, as she was on the way to take part on a discussion at the Almedalen political festival. She died in hospital later that day. 

Engström has admitted to carrying out the attack, telling police that he intended to make a protest against the state of psychiatric healthcare in Sweden.