Monthly Archives: November 2014

Sweden: a failing state

Translation of this. Not very confident in it; I don’t speak Swedish.

There are now 55 residential areas in Sweden where the police cannot maintain law and order. The National Criminal Intelligence Section has identified the geographic areas where local criminal networks are considered to have a major negative impact on the surroundings. There are areas where confrontations among criminals can result in gunfire on the streets, where residents do not dare to testify and where the police are not welcome.

The report, A national survey of criminal networks with major impact in the local community(En nationell översikt av kriminella nätverk med stor påverkan i lokalsamhället), was published last week. It describes areas where unattended police cars are attacked,” where police officers will be “attacked” and where it is “common for police officers to be exposed to violence and threats.” Traders suffer from vandalism, burglary, robbery and extortion. Narcotics are sold openly, and although/even if (även om) the gangs do not control the territory, “there are checks on cars” as part of the struggle over the drug trade.

The police do not want to talk about these parallel societies, but in some areas residents are seeing that “the ordinary justice system has been partly eliminated“, while police note that a wider clientele turn to the criminal environment for rightskeeping.” The residents believe that it is the criminals who control the areas.”

The report covers famous places like Rinkeby (89.1% immigrant background) / Tensta (The open unemployment rate is 43.5% (2009) and the rate of people on social welfare is 40.2% (1999). In 1999 the employment rate was 44%. Immigrants make up 66% of the population and 95%-100% of the children in local schools are of foreign origin.) and Alby (a very high concentration of immigrants) / Fittja (contains the tallest minaret in Europe; 64.7% of the population is of non-Swedish origin, of which 25.1% are not Swedish citizens) in Stockholm, Bergsjön (Over 80 percent of students in Bergsjön have Swedish as a second language) and Biskopsgården in Gothenburg and Herrgården (Generally considered the worst part of Rosengård, 96% of the neighborhood’s population is of foreign background (67% born abroad and 29% born in Sweden to two immigrant parents). 47% of the population is 18 years and younger. The most common countries of origin include Iraq, Lebanon, Afghanistan, Yugoslavia and Somalia. Just 15% of the population is employed. Herrgården is a social-democratic stronghold, with the Swedish Social Democratic Party garnering 82% of votes in the 2006 elections.) / Rosengård (In 2012, the figure for those of “immigrant background” was given as 86%.) in Malmö, but also Koppargården in Landskrona, Araby in Växjö and Brynäs in Gavle, to name just a few. In these 55 locations, the police have little power to curb crime. Police operations are greeted with stone-throwing, and investigations are difficult because people do not want to testify, if the crimes are even reported.

The police do not use the term no go”-zones. It is originally military slang for rebel-controlled areas. But the question is whether there is a clearer description of the places where the public, generally understands (allmänheten i flera fall uppfattar) that it is the criminals that control the areas” and where “the police are not able to operate.”

Police are talking about older gangs and younger: the former operate more professionally and are more structured, whereas the latter are loosely-connected networks, mayflies” that come and go in different configurations, where the common denominator is the social context and the geographical area“.

The established gangs which are held together by ethnicity, kinship or friendship(etnicitet, släktskap eller vänskapsband) can probably be countered with targeted efforts against organized crime, while the younger ones can hardly be reached without broad approaches in the local community. Police are now investigating whether there is overlap with what the government callsexclusion areas(utanförskapsområden; see here), to possibly identify socioeconomic and other factors behind the development.

And, of course, exclusion plays a role(Right, of course.) But it may be worth recalling that many so-called exclusion areas do not seem to have lapsed into lawlessness, and that the vast majority of people in isolation are victims, not perpetrators. The 55 identified areas need, first and foremost, safety and security. Only then can the fields evolve in a positive direction. We need a permanent police presence– well staffed police stations to remove criminals from the streets and to regain control of the areas.

The situation is not entirely hopeless, yet. “In most areas, after all, it is experienced that police officers can walk freely and patrol on foot without fear of being attacked.” (But it just said that police officers in these areas will be attacked!)