As the wave of violence in Sweden's third largest city reaches new heights, the chief prosecutor now sounds the alarm: The police criminal investigations are heading for collapse: Acute understaffing makes that serious crimes are neglected. "The situation is very serious," says chief prosecutor in Malmö, Ola Sjöstrand.
A week ago the Police Union South went out in the regional newspaper Sydsvenskan, and demanded regional police chief Annika Stenberg's resignation.
The reason was widespread frustration within the police over staffing, reorganization and incompetent management in the south that has created chaos.
Now the chief prosecutor, Ola Sjöstrand, sounds the alarm that the crisis in the police has led to a dangerous situation in Malmö.
- When people suffer by crimes not being investigated, they lose confidence in the rule of law, says Ola Sjöstrand.
Statistics from the Public Prosecution Office shows that the situation is much worse in Malmö than in other major cities: On average, it now takes 374 days in Malmö from the time a police report is made until the prosecutor can decide on prosecution or to close the case. The corresponding figure is 73 days in Gothenburg and 61 days in Stockholm.
- We are near a collapse in terms of criminal investigations in Malmö, says Ola Sjöstrand.
This year alone Malmö has suffered from 11 murders and about 30 attempted murders. They have drawn so many resources that other serious crimes have been sidelined.
- Every time a murder happens, all the other suffer. Women and children who have been abused. Sexual assaults. Child pornography. Burglary. Fraud. All that suffer.
- The police must have an organization which can handle the most serious violent crimes without interfering with the others, says Ola Sjöstrand.
According to the Procedure Code, all criminal investigations run "expeditiously." When nothing happens in a case, the prosecutor, as a preliminary investigation, sends a formal reminder to the police.
- I have sent around 150 reminders to police management in Malmö this year. I have never seen anything like it.
Ola Sjöstrand takes as an example "offense in close relationship."
- Right now there is not even a police investigator appointed in half of the cases. We do not have anyone to send directives to. It is a huge frustration for prosecutors who can not do their job. And above all: where there are victims who feel very bad.
According to Ola Sjöstrand, the lack of police investigators has gone so far that crucial investigative actions are not even made in time in murder cases. When a 30 year old man was killed in Seved in Malmö a couple of weeks ago, there were no ordinary murder investigators available.
- When a murder happens is very important that things go fast. In the past, it was not even on the table that there were no resources in those cases.
Delayed investigation efforts mean less chance of solving a crime. In the past five years, the percentage of solved crimes in Sweden has fallen from 18 to 14 percent. In an interview with HD and Sydsvenskan recently, Interior Minister Anders Ygeman predicted that the percentage will continue to drop next year.
- The longer a crime remains queued, the more difficult it becomes to have a strong case. Evidence cools. People do not want to be apart anymore. Witnesses have forgotten after a year. Suspects disappear from the country. IT evidence are stored for a limited time, says Ola Sjöstrand.
Recently HD and Sydsvenskan revealed that the number of police officers in Sweden - contrary to the government's ambitions - has fallen in recent years. Today there are only around 19,500 police officers in the country of almost 10 million people.
According to Ola Sjöstrand, the lack of police investigators is the main reason that the police in Malmö can not deliver.
- Staffing is acute. They do not have enough investigators for serious crimes, fraud, and crime in close relationship, he says.
- Furthermore, the police officers they insert as investigators are very young and inexperienced. Often we prosecutors are acting more like supervisor than investigators. And we do not have the resources for it.
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