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Efforts to combat gang crime are well under way – the 34-point programme one year on
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It has been a year since the Government presented its 34-point programme of measures to combat gang crime. The programme represents the largest package of measures to combat gang crime ever in Sweden. The Government is working hard to ensure that measure after measure enters into force and produces results.
The measures in the 34-point programme will enable the Government to impose more severe penalties for gang-related crime and offer the Swedish Police wider possibilities to conduct searches. Reduced sentences for young adults involved in serious crime will be abolished. The culture of silence surrounding criminal gangs must be broken. The Government has therefore appointed an Inquiry Chair to examine matters such as a crown witness system, improved witness protection, increased penalties for e.g. threatening witnesses, and the need to introduce the possibility to testify anonymously. Youth supervision as a sanction enters into force on 1 January 2021 and the Government is taking long-term measures to stop gangs from recruiting. The multi-agency cooperation to combat organised crime is being enhanced and stepped up.
"To increase safety and security in our nation and strengthen our society, we must mobilise in the fight against organised crime. Early interventions, including equal schooling and more robust social services and welfare, are absolutely vital in the fight against crime, as are stricter legislation and effective tools for the police and law enforcement authorities," says Minister for Justice and Migration Morgan Johansson.
Over the past year, the Government has made it easier to seize gang members’ property, watches, cars and cash, and is now reviewing legislation to make it even more effective in seizing the proceeds of crime – money or property obtained through crime.
One measure from the 34-point programme that entered into force this year has enabled the police to hack into the telephones of hardened criminals and read their encrypted communications. Since police in Europe cracked the EncroChat app in 2020, the Swedish Police have arrested around ten people in Swedish criminal gang networks, and according the Swedish Police Authority, more than ten murders have been prevented.
"We need to see much more success of this kind as law enforcement authorities gain access to more and better tools," says Minister for Home Affairs Mikael Damberg.
Another measure that has entered into force has made it easier for the Swedish Police to use interception equipment. This means that the connection of a new interception will take place faster, reducing the gap that arises when criminals change numbers or devices, or use several.
Alongside the work on the 34-point programme and other reforms to increase safety and security, the largest ever expansion of the Swedish Police is also under way. The Swedish Police Authority is currently halfway to achieving the target of expanding by 10 000 police employees by 2024, and the Authority now has more resources at its disposal than ever before. Increasing numbers of new constables are joining police operations every six months. Two new police training programmes have started – one in Malmö and one in Borås. All in all, three times more police are being trained today than in 2014, when the Government took office. At the same time as the Government is reinforcing the police, other parts of the judicial chain are also being reinforced, especially the Swedish Prison and Probation Service.
In January, new acts on sanctions will enter into force, and at the end of 2021, the majority of the programme’s 34 measures will have been presented or entered into force.
"The 34-point programme is not the only, the first or the last of the measures the Government is working on to fight serious crime. More proposals are under way on everything from more efficient court proceedings to stricter rules on expelling people involved in crime. But the work doesn’t end there, either. Above all, more politicians need to listen to the police’s message that our entire society must be on board to stop recruitments to criminal environments," says Mr Damberg.