A central plank of the Malmö police’s strategy to prevent further escalation of the city’s wave of tit-for-tat shootings has been to refer as many suspected gang members under the age of 18 as possible to the social services.
Britt-Marie Pettersson, director of the city’s social services, said that police had passed her department a list of young people suspected of involvement with armed gangs.
“We launched investigations to examine who was at risk of shooting someone or being shot by someone,” Pettersson told the local Sydsvenskan newspaper. “We have then taken action in a significant proportion of cases regarding these young people.”
Pettersson said that some of the young people had been taken into custody under Sweden's LVU law, some had been referred to groups specialising in helping young people leave criminal gangs, while others had been placed in foster families or care homes specialising in troubled teenagers.
There have been eleven fatal shootings in the city so far this year, including one triple murder at an internet café in the central district of Värnhem.
Malmö mayor Katrin Stjernfeldt Jammeh said the series of shootings represented “an extraordinary situation” which justified the additional social care cost of about 25m kronor ($2.7m).
“We have been cooperating with the police to create the most stable conditions possible. The social services should not have to look at their budgets when they are doing what is necessary for these young people,” she said.