Swedish police request more money for border control

Border control in Sweden has been the subject of strong criticism, and a law enforcement assessment says more funding is required.

Swedish police request more money for border control
File photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

Police are requesting an additional 600 million kronor from the government to manage border checks.

The border controls were broadly criticized in last year's Schengen report on the functioning of the common border area. Insufficient staff, organisation and competence were all mentioned in the report.

Earlier this year, news agency TT reported that border staff with police in the Stockholm region had alerted the Ministry of Justice as to the seriousness of the situation.

In order to meet the demands set in the Schengen report, workforce at border crossing points must be expanded, the Swedish Police Authority (Polismyndigheten) writes in its annual budget assessment, presented to the government.

Investment in education, equipment and facilities is also requested, while IT systems must be improved, the authority said as it sought an additional 600 million kronor over three years for border controls.

When the additional costs will arise or when the various improvements will be undertaken is currently unclear, but investment of 100 million kronor is required for 2020, followed by 200 million kronor in 2021 and 300 million kronor in 2022, according to the police preliminary assessment.

In order to meet an overall target of an extra 10,000 police employees by 2024, the authority has asked for financial backing corresponding to that received in the period up to and including 2021. That amounts to an additional 1.3 billion kronor.

“The police has just submitted its budget request. We will, of course, analyse it. It is currently too early to comment on how the government’s budget will look. We will return to that,” Minister for Home Affairs Mikael Damberg told TT.

“However, the government has been clear – the police must have 10,000 more employees by 2024, and this was also stated in the January agreement [providing for the new government, ed.],” Damberg added.

READ ALSO: Schengen report criticizes Swedish border checks as not fit for purpose

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Calls for special police tactics to be available across Sweden

The chairwoman of the Police Association West Region has said that police special tactics, known as Särskild polistaktik or SPT, should be available across Sweden, to use in demonstrations similar to those during the Easter weekend.

Calls for special police tactics to be available across Sweden

SPT, (Särskild polistaktik), is a tactic where the police work with communication rather than physical measures to reduce the risk of conflicts during events like demonstrations.

Tactics include knowledge about how social movements function and how crowds act, as well as understanding how individuals and groups act in a given situation. Police may attempt to engage in collaboration and trust building, which they are specially trained to do.

Katharina von Sydow, chairwoman of the Police Association West Region, told Swedish Radio P4 West that the concept should exist throughout the country.

“We have nothing to defend ourselves within 10 to 15 metres. We need tools to stop this type of violent riot without doing too much damage,” she said.

SPT is used in the West region, the South region and in Stockholm, which doesn’t cover all the places where the Easter weekend riots took place.

In the wake of the riots, police unions and the police’s chief safety representative had a meeting with the National Police Chief, Anders Tornberg, and demanded an evaluation of the police’s work. Katharina von Sydow now hopes that the tactics will be introduced everywhere.

“This concept must exist throughout the country”, she said.

During the Easter weekend around 200 people were involved in riots after a planned demonstration by anti-Muslim Danish politician Rasmus Paludan and his party Stram Kurs (Hard Line), that included the burning of the Muslim holy book, the Koran.

Police revealed on Friday that at least 104 officers were injured in counter-demonstrations that they say were hijacked by criminal gangs intent on targeting the police. 

Forty people were arrested and police are continuing to investigate the violent riots for which they admitted they were unprepared. 

Paludan’s application for another demonstration this weekend was rejected by police.

In Norway on Saturday, police used tear gas against several people during a Koran-burning demonstration after hundreds of counter-demonstrators clashed with police in the town of Sandefjord.