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Here’s the new police list of trouble suburbs in Sweden

Swedish police on Monday hailed positive developments within the nation's 60 so-called 'vulnerable areas'. But there's both good news and bad news.

Here's the new police list of trouble suburbs in Sweden
Fittja in Botkyrka, one of 22 'especially vulnerable' areas. Photo: Claudio Bresciani/TT
In an update to a list first introduced in 2015, police reduced the number of areas defined as “especially vulnerable” from 23 to 22. 
 
The police define an “especially vulnerable area” as being “characterized by social issues and a criminal presence which has led to a widespread disinclination to participate in the judicial process and difficulties for the police to fulfil their mission”.
 
The Gårdsten neighbourhood in Gothenburg, among the 23 especially vulnerable areas identified two years ago, was moved to the less serious designation of “risk areas”, which are viewed as falling somewhere between “vulnerable” and “especially vulnerable”.
 
The “vulnerable” category is defined as “a geographically defined area characterized by a low socio-economic status where criminals have an impact on the local community”. 
 
Additionally, the neighbourhoods of Smedby in Upplands Väsby and Hageby in Norrköping were removed from the list completely. 
 
 
In announcing the updated list on Monday, National Operations Department (NOA) chief Mats Löfving said that there have been significant improvements within the designated areas. 
 
“The relationships between residents and police have improved. We are seeing calmer environments, and fewer attacks on the police and other security personnel,” he said. “We can also see that residents are more willing to talk to the police and help in criminal investigations.”
 
“We still see problems, but the trends show that things are progressing,” he continued. 
Local police in Botkyrka Municipality also reported that relations between residents and law enforcement are improving, even within the three distinct Botkyrka areas that remain on the list of especially vulnerable places.
 
“We have an improved knowledge of what's going on in those areas and a better picture of the situation,” local police officer Erik Åkerlund said. 
 
 
Linda Staaf, the head of NOA's intelligence unit, said that the reason the areas have been dropped from the list is because “criminals there no longer have an impact, which is a fundamental criterion for being called a vulnerable area”.
 
“Compared to 2017, we generally see positive trends. There are some areas with negative trends but the overall picture is more positive than it was a couple of years ago,” she said. “One thing is that the police can better do their jobs [in the areas] and another is that we can tell that residents are more willing to tell us what they see and hear.” 
 
While Gothenburg's Gårdsten area, Smedby in Upplands Väsby and Hageby in Norrköping were removed from the latest police list, the Storvreten area of Tumba was a new addition to the overview of 'vulnerable areas'.
 
Thus, the overall number of areas included in the report decreased from 61 to 60. The count in the first list, released in 2015, was 53. 
 
 
The report also included ten “risk areas”. Three areas that were previously listed as the less serious “vulnerable” were moved to this category: Fornhöjden and Hovsjö in Södertälje and Rissne/Hallonbergen in Sundbyberg.
 
Although international media often report that Sweden has so-called “no-go zones”, police and emergency services have repeatedly rejected this claim, arguing that the vulnerable areas actually have a higher police presence, if anything. 
 
That said, emergency services do often adapt their behaviour, for example by making sure that there is proper back-up, by entering the areas via alternative routes, or by reversing their vehicles into the areas in order to make sure they are able to leave quickly if needed. Emergency services have, for example, been exposed to threats, stone-throwing, or vandalism of their vehicles. 
 
Sweden's 22 'especially vulnerable' areas, according to the police's 2019 report:
 
Vivalla, Örebro
Gottsunda, Uppsala
Alby, Botkyrka
Fittja, Botkyrka
Hallunda/Norsborg, Botkyrka
Husby, Stockholm
Rinkeby/Tensta, Stockholm
Ronna/Geneta/Lina, Södertälje
Araby, Växjö
Karlslund, Landskrona
Nydala/Hermodsdal/Lindängen, Malmö
Rosengård söder om Amiralsgatan, Malmö
Södra Sofielund (Seved), Malmö
Bergsjön, Gothenburg
Biskopsgården, Gothenburg
Hammarkullen, Gothenburg
Hjällbo, Gothenburg
Lövgärdet, Gothenburg
Tynnered/Grevgården/Opaltorget, Västra Frölunda
Hässleholmen/Hulta, Borås
Norrby, Borås
Skäggetorp, Linköping

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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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