Swedish National Police Commissioner Anders Thornberg has admitted that despite large numbers of weapons seizures and full prisons, the rate of shootings in Sweden remains high.
Thornberg, who was also formerly chief of the Swedish Security Service (Sapo), said that police must "get better at their work" to tackle the problem of gang violence, claiming that children as young as eight were running drugs and helping criminal gangs in the multicultural city of Malmo, broadcaster YLE reports.
"Prisons are full in Sweden, detention centres are full, institutions are full, SiS institutions for minors are full. Yet, there are about the same number of shootings, even though the police take more weapons and drugs than we ever did," Thornberg said.
He added that many young gang members in vulnerable areas, also known as no-go areas, do not expect they will live past 25 to 30 years old, saying: "They see peers who have gold chains and weapons and cars, and they look up to them. Some do not expect to get older than 25 to 30 years. It is awful if the youth does not have faith in the future."
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The police head went on to describe the results of the ongoing Operation Rimfrost, a police operation to tackle violent gang crime, saying that within six months, police had made 450 arrests and seized 15 to 230 kilos of drugs, 45 weapons, three kilos of explosives, and one million Swedish krona (£80,640/$105,345) in cash.
When asked about the reasons why Sweden has seen such a surge in shootings, bombings, and general gang crime, Thornberg said most of the crime comes from vulnerable areas. He said: "It is escalating all the time. It is ultimately about drugs, it is about quick money, it is about ignoring society and democratic values."
Sweden has seen a large surge in explosions in 2019 with a Crime Prevention Council (BRÅ) report claiming at least 236 explosive incidents, while others have questioned the figures, stating that some explosions may have been reclassified and the real figures could be even higher.