Malmö to roll out promising anti-gang method to teenagers

Emma Löfgren
Emma Löfgren - [email protected]
Malmö to roll out promising anti-gang method to teenagers
Malmö has seen a reduction in shootings in recent years. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

A US strategy sometimes credited with helping Malmö bring its shootings under control after years of gang violence is now being rolled out to troubled youths in the city.


The Sluta skjut approach ("ceasefire", or literally “stop shooting” – known as Group Violence Intervention in the US) has so far been used on a handful of Malmö teenagers aged 15-17, police said in a statement.

The police and social services identify youths who they know to be at risk of joining in or falling victim to gang crime, and then call the teenager and their legal guardian to a meeting.

“We point out that the police are keeping an eye on them, but above all we convey our concern about the child to the parents. We focus on them and are clear that the social service will step in if the youth continues on the same path,” said Sluta skjut coordinator Glen Sjögren.

The Sluta skjut project, based on a technique pioneered in US cities such as Boston, Baltimore and Minneapolis, was launched in 2018 after years of violent crime connected with Malmö gangs.

It generally involves holding a succession of “call-ins” where known or suspected gang members attend meetings with police, social workers, civil society, the family of victims of gun crime, and others.

They are then offered help leaving gang life and warned that if they continue to engage in gun crime, they risk being the subject of intense focus of the police and other authorities.


When the project was launched, the main violent actors in Malmö were almost solely aged over 18, said police, but in recent years the number of minors who are part of criminal gangs has risen.

“Through Sluta skjut we have developed a method for mapping out individuals who are part of criminal networks. We talk to them instead of about them and this dialogue can lead to change. As serious violent crime is becoming more prevalent among much younger age groups, we want to adapt this method to younger people who are active in the same environments,” said Sjögren.

Sluta skjut is often mentioned as one of the reasons behind Malmö’s sharp fall in shootings, but although the fall coincides with the project’s launch, it has not been proven that it is directly related. It's nonetheless seen as a tentative success and has been rolled out in other cities.


Researchers tasked with evaluating the project found that the monthly number of shootings in Malmö roughly halved from 4.36 per month between January 2017 and October 2018, when the programme launched, to 2.14 between November 2018 and December 2022.

This does not mean that the project does not have its limitations.

The reduction in shootings came despite the police's failure to provide adequate resources after the end of the trial period, the researchers said, with social workers frustrated at not being provided with up-to-date analysis of criminal groupings behind violent gang crime.

The researchers also said that Sweden lacked, or at least did not adequately use, the civil society organisations – such as Somali neighbourhood groups – which had been such a key part of the strategy's success in the US. Police, the researchers said, had not often not sent officers to meetings with civil society organisations, leaving this work to social workers.


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