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CRIME

Sweden scraps controversial indefinite detentions for crime suspects

Indefinite detentions are coming to an end this summer after the Swedish parliament voted for time-limited detentions.

Sweden scraps controversial indefinite detentions for crime suspects
File photo of a remand cell in Östersund, Sweden. Photo: Per Danielsson/TT

Under the new rules young people between the ages of 15 and 18 should normally not be detained for more than three months while waiting for formal charges to be pressed in court. The time limit for adults will be nine months.

It will be possible to detain a suspect for longer if there are exceptional reasons.

There are currently no time limits, but strong reasons are required to detain a young person.

The bill was put forward by the centre-left government last year in order to meet the criticism that Sweden has received for decades, not least internationally, over its long periods of detention.

The right-wing opposition, including the Moderate party, Christian Democrats and the Sweden Democrats, voted against the introduction of cutoff points, referring to the fact that the Swedish Prosecution Authority was against time limits, with the motivation that this may complicate criminal investigations.

Sweden’s indefinite detations have long been criticised by human rights activists and came back into the international spotlight with the four-week detention of American rapper ASAP Rocky in 2019. The musician was eventually convicted of assault following a brawl in Stockholm, and he and two friends were handed suspended sentences.

Detentions of this kind aren’t that unusual in Sweden, and there’s no equivalent to the bail system that allows suspects to be released against a financial guarantee.

However, to remand a suspect, the court must believe there is “probable cause” to believe the suspect committed a crime that could result in imprisonment of at least one year.

They must also rule that there is a risk of the suspect fleeing, committing further crime, or harming the investigation, in order to keep them in custody. If these criteria are met and the suspect is remanded (häktad), the prosecutor has 14 days to bring the case to trial – but this can under the current rules be extended, in theory indefinitely, if the court approves an extension.

The new rules will come into force on July 1st.

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CRIME

Sweden breaks yearly record for fatal shootings

A man was shot to death in Kristianstad, Skåne, late on Thursday night. He is the 48th person to be shot dead in Sweden this year, meaning that the previous record for most fatal shootings in one year set in 2020 has now been broken.

Sweden breaks yearly record for fatal shootings

“Unfortunately we can’t say more than that he’s in his twenties and we have no current suspects,” duty officer Mikael Lind told TT newswire.

According to police statistics, this most recent deadly shooting means that 48 people have been shot to death in 2022, meaning that Sweden has broken a new record for deadly shootings per year.

Earlier this week, Sweden’s police chief Anders Thornberg said that this number is likely to rise even higher before the end of the year.

“It looks like we’re going to break the record this year,” he told TT on Tuesday. “That means – if it continues at the same pace – around 60 deadly shootings.”

“If it ends up being such a large increase that would be very unusual,” said Manne Gerell, criminiologist at Malmö University.

“We saw a large increase between 2017 and 2018, and we could see the same now, as we’re on such low figures in Sweden. But it’s still worrying that it’s increasing by so much over such a short time period,” he said.

There also seems to be an upwards trend in the number of shootings overall during 2022. 273 shootings had occured by September 1st this year, compared with 344 for the whole of 2021 and 379 for the whole of 2020.

If shootings continue at this rate for the rest of 2022, it is likely that the total number for the year would be higher than 2021 and 2020. There are, however, fewer injuries.

“The majority of shootings cause no injuries, but this year, mortality has increased substantially,” Gerell explained. “There aren’t more people being shot, but when someone is shot, they’re more likely to die.”

Thursday’s shooting took place in Kristianstad, but it’s only partially true that deadly gun violence is becoming more common in smaller cities.

“It’s moved out somewhat to smaller cities, but we’re overexaggerating that effect,” Gerell said. “We’re forgetting that there have been shootings in other small cities in previous years.”

A report from the Crime Prevention Council (Brå) presented last spring showed that Sweden, when compared with 22 different countries in Europe, was the only one with an upwards trend for deadly shootings.

Temporary increases can be seen during some years in a few countries, but there were no countries which showed such a clear increase as Sweden has seen for multiple years in a row, according to Brå.

The Swedish upwards trend for deadly gun violence began in the beginning of the 2000s, but the trend took off in 2013 and has continued to increase since.

Eight of ten deadly shootings take place in criminal environments, the study showed. The Swedish increase has taken place in principle only among the 20-29 year old age group.

When police chief Anders Thornberg was asked how the trend can be broken, he said that new recruitments are one of the most important factors.

“The most important thing is to break recruitment, make sure we can listen encrypted and that we can get to the profits of crime in a better way,” he said.

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