Sweden's parliament has called for steeper measures against gang crime amid a spike in shootings in Stockholm County.
The previous programme, developed in autumn, 2019, has failed to address the worsening threat of gangland crime and was condemned as insufficient, as several parties, including allies of the ruling party, argued it didn't go far enough.
The opposition parties, the Moderates, the Christian Democrats and the Sweden Democrats, argued that further measures are needed to combat gang crime. The Moderates justified a harsher crackdown, citing the increasing number of shootings and explosions.
“It is obvious that the government's policy does not scratch the gangs. Here they have held as many press meetings as possible, they have talked about mustering strength and all the things that should happen. And then the number of shootings and blasts increases. So it goes in the wrong direction. That is completely unreasonable, I believe,” Moderate legal spokesman Johan Forssell told Swedish Radio.
The previous programme included 34 points, such as crime prevention efforts, and was called “the largest anti-gang crime package ever in Sweden” by the country's Interior Minister Mikael Damberg. Forsell, by contrast, described the programme as missing a “long line of things”.
“We have to fill hundreds of vacancies in police training, we need strong penalties for gang crime, new tools to clear up this type of crime, and then a change in the social service,” Forssell said.
Even Left Party political spokeswoman Linda Westerlund Snecker called on the government to expand the 34-point programme.
“What is needed now is that we make sure no more people are recruited into gangs,” Snecker said.
Even the Liberals, the minority Green-Social Democrat government's own sidekicks, called for further measures.
“There must be a stronger overall grip and with focus on the long-term rules of the game. Temporary interventions by the police, such as Operation Hoarforst, are not enough. A kind of Permafrost is needed. Then we need to beef up the resources,” the Liberals' legal spokesman Johan Pehrson said.
Despite numerous police initiatives such as Hoarfrost, violence and shootings continue in Sweden. Between January and May, at least 53 confirmed shootings took place in Stockholm County alone, leaving seven dead and 23 injured, national broadcaster SVT reported. The same period last year saw “only” 30 shootings.
According to researchers, some of the organised crime is carried out by groups that are cohesive in common origin or growth, which is a factor of building mutual trust. In particular, they often hail from the Middle East or the Balkans, according to researchers.
A 2018 report highlighted a total of 15,244 people engaged in extremism, violence and organised crime, national broadcaster SVT reported. A typical individual was found to be 19 years old. 92 percent of them are men and 67 percent are born in Sweden, but a majority have roots in other countries. Furthermore, 45 percent have a psychiatric diagnosis, although few have a serious one.