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Ten representatives of the agencies involved in Sluta Skjut gave a press conference on Wednesday. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT
Under the city's Sluta Skjut (Stop Shooting) scheme, nine known gang members were on Tuesday forced to attend a meeting where they were confronted by police, nurses, bereaved parents, social workers and others, all of whom sought to convince them to leave their criminal lives.
Sintèus told a press conference that he was worried that the fatal shooting of Jaffar, a 15-year-old boy, on Saturday night in a pizzeria near Malmö's Möllevånstorget square, would change the dynamic of the so-called 'call-in'.
“I can honestly say that I was worried before this call-in,” he said. “I would like to say that this was a call-in where we could tell with all of them that it sunk in.”
The nine men had all been sentenced for various crimes, and had to attend the meeting as part of their probation. Three of those invited chose not to come, thereby risking a 15-day prison sentence.
The meeting was the third since the Sluta Skjut project began last year. The project uses the Group Violence Intervention technique developed by Professor David Kennedy, who leads the National Network for Safe Communities (NNSC) at John Jay College in New York.
NNSC claims that the technique cut youth homicide in Boston by 63 percent and the number of shootings by 27 percent when it was launched there in the 1990s.
The police briefly uploaded a video of a rehearsal involved carried out before the event took place on Tuesday but later took it down. The Sydsvenskan newspaper published a clip on its website (In Swedish).
The video shows Dejan, from the local probation services; Sedat Arif, a Malmö city councillor from Macedonia who explained his tough upbringing in Rosengård, Anna Kosztovics, who leads the unit helping gang members leave crime, and Ebba, a deacon from the Swedish church, as well as two police officers and Ola Sjöstrand, Malmö's chief prosecutor.
Boel Håkansson, with the Swedish police's national unit NOA, said that so far 30 young men had shown interest in leaving criminal life. “That's one result of the work in Sluta Skjut, but we have a lot more to do,” she said.
She also stressed that, even after the shootings last Saturday and on Monday, the number of fatal shootings since the project began was still down dramatically on 2018.
At Tuesday's meeting, the nine young men were lectured by Lizette Vargas, a nurse who has helped treat some of those admitted to Malmö University Hospital with bullet wounds.
“I told them what it looks like when someone comes into the accident and emergency department with bullet wounds,” she said at the press conference, according to the Sydsvenskan newspaper. “I explained how we in our profession feel when we look after a trauma patient and handle their friends and relatives.”
She said that she felt the men had been affected by what she said. “They became upset. We had made contact when our eyes met. You can tell it's sinking in.”
At the meeting on Tuesday there were more than 70 people, including representatives of sports clubs, religious organisations, and the local city government, all of whom offered various services to help the men leave criminal life.
A mother, whose adult son had died of an illness, told the men what it was like to lose a child.
But as well as the soft sell, there was a harder message.
“We are not going to accept that either you, or those you hang about with, use guns or violence,” Sintéus told them. “If you choose to continue doing that nonetheless, the police and other authorities are going to have a minute focus on everyone in the most violent group.”
Under Group Violence Intervention, police put the lives of those deemed to still be engaged in violent crime under the microscope, carrying out frequent spot checks on them.
“We know who you are and who you hang out with,” added Glen Sjögren, who has worked for Malmö police for 40 years. “We do not want more young kids to end their lives in a pool of blood.”