Despite previous efforts, the Swedish police have failed to attract enough women to police training and is now betting on new, more gender-equal recruitment campaigns to fix this.
In the autumn, women made up about 30 percent of the applicants for police training. This is far too few, according to Chief of Police Max Lutteman.
"We have this as a priority area. When we now work with campaigns to admit more people to police training, we have targeted women in particular", Lutteman told Swedish Radio.
However, progress in this area has been slow, and in the past four years the figures have remained roughly unchanged.
"I think it's a bit of an old tradition. We see a similar situation in other European countries", Max Lutteman speculated as to why this is the case.
Lutteman also said the ambition is to attract more people with a foreign background to the police force in a perennial bid to emphasise diversity and increase representation. In the autumn of 2020, just over 10 percent of those admitted to police training had a foreign background, Swedish Radio reported.
According to Swedish police, until the 1950s, the police force was dominated by men. In 1957, the first female police officers entered the force in Stockholm, but were equipped with batons instead of sabres. In 1981, Sweden received its first first female police chief. As of 2019, 33 percent of Sweden's entire police force of about 20,000 were women. To facilitate admission, the police currently have different physical endurance standards for men and women.
People with a foreign background made up 6 percent of the police force as of 2017, which is seen as a vast underrepresentation, as their share in the overall population is about a quarter. As was reported earlier, the largest dropout rate occurs during problem-solving and personality tests. Poor language skills were identified as another recurrent problem.
In recent years, the Swedish police have faced a plethora of challenges, including burgeoning no-go zones, street shootings, explosions,and gangland violence. According to journalist and writer Lasse Wierup, the author of "Gangster's Paradise. How Sweden became an arena for gang crime, shootings, and bombings", Sweden has about 350 gangs numbering some 12,000 members.