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Swedish Police Place Bet on Diversity to Tackle Crime Wave

© AFP 2021 / JONATHAN NACKSTRANDPolice officers are pictured ahead of the Euro 2016 play-off football match between Sweden and Denmark at the Friends arena in Solna on November 14, 2015
Police officers are pictured ahead of the Euro 2016 play-off football match between Sweden and Denmark at the Friends arena in Solna on November 14, 2015 - Sputnik International
Despite the multicultural push, the police themselves have admitted to difficulties in meeting the government's diversity goals, as more than half of applicants with a foreign background fail the admission tests. As of today, only 6 percent of the police force has a foreign background, as opposed to more than a quarter of the general population.

The Swedish government has instructed police to recruit more women and employees with a foreign background. This, as Swedish Radio put it, is meant “to boost competence and increase representation”.

“We need those skills, especially when the police are to grow. It is the language competence but also what I call cultural competence”, police commissioner Max Lutteman, who has a “national assignment to attract competence” told Swedish Radio.

According to Lutteman, immigrants are, among other things, crucial in investigations where the people involved hail from other cultures. By using investigators from the same culture, the police will be able to better understand the circumstances and the motive.

“I hope they feel that you represent a little more diversity. That they recognise themselves more, now that there is a broader culture within the police”, Iranian-Danish Natasha Pedersen, who has been admitted to police training at Södertörn University said.

The police, however, have admittedly struggled to meet those goals. Just under ten percent of those admitted to police training last fall were immigrants and just over two percent were women of an immigrant background.

While about 25 percent of the applicants had a foreign background, more than half of them failed to make the grade and performed poorly in language tests and other admissions tests. The police stressed that lowering admission requirements in order to recruit more immigrants and better reflect the general population is currently not under consideration. At present, only 6 percent of policemen have a foreign background.

In April 2017, the red-green coalition government pledged to increase the number of Swedish police officers by at least 10,000 by 2024 in order to counter gang violence and unrest in society. Currently, there about 30,000 officers. According to a recent report by the newspaper Svenska Dagbladet, there are “difficulties” in meeting this goal as well.

To put a damper on the raging gang wars and outbreaks of violence that include shootings and explosions, the police launched Operation Hoarfrost. According to the Crime Prevention Council, the total number of blasts alone has increased from 162 in 2018 to 263 in 2019. The police have yet to figure out what has caused the drastic increase.

“This is relatively new, so we cannot say for sure what the increase depends on. But our impression is that it is an effective means of pressure within organised crime”, Stefan Hector, the commander-in-chief for Operation Hoarfrost told Svenska Dagbladet.

One hypothesis is that the increased penalties for crimes involving firearms spurred the criminals into taking other means.

Sweden's Prime minister Stefan Lofven attends a press conference at Rosenbad, the Swedish government headquarters, in Stockholm on July 27, 2017 - Sputnik International
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So far, very few of the explosions have been solved by the police. In police region South, where over 100 explosions occurred last year, only one person was convicted. According to the police, blasts are particularly difficult to investigate as any evidence is lost.

Since Sweden embraced mass immigration in the late 20th century, it has quickly gone from one of Europe's most homogeneous nations to one of the most diverse, with more than a quarter of the Swedish population of 10 million having a foreign background. While numerous independent reports have highlighted immigrants' overrepresentation in various crimes, including those of a sexual nature, the Swedish authorities have consistently denied any link, pinning the increase in crime on “social injustice” and “segregation”.

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