Law and order have emerged as a major issue in the Swedish election. In its bid to establish credibility on this issue, the social-democrat government relies on its pledge from 2017 to add 10,000 more employees to the national police force. Recently, the social democrats went beyond this pledge of a 50% expansion of the police force, promising 50,000 “police force employees” in ten years.
In recent days, Swedish media have published stories revealing how the government’s attempt to add 10,000 more officers to the force has backfired.
On September 6th, Samnytt.se reported a list of anecdotal evidence of how the quality of new police officers is declining:
Both police officers [in active service] and police student instructors give testimony to the press of how the ambitions to put as many new police officers out as possible, has resulted in the admission of unqualified individuals.
The daily newspaper Aftonbladet has the details on what the deteriorating quality looks like. One police student tried to fill up the police car by adding gasoline where the windshield exhaust fluid goes. A recent graduate of the police academy, while on patrol with a more experienced officer, got so scared by a tense situation that the young officer took shelter in the police car and locked the doors.
The problem is not new. Back in May, police inspector and academy instructor Johan Silverland exposed the quality problems in an op-ed for the Swedish Police Magazine. He tells of
students who are caught cheating, who have to take psycho-stabilizing drugs to get through the day, and who ask which numbers on their own driver’s license are their social security numbers. … With the current admission requirements and routines, we will end up with police officers who do not have sufficient skills … who have exhibited character traits that suggest they could very well forge evidence, and who pose a danger to themselves and to others.
According to a recent poll published by the broadcast channel TV4, law and order is a top issue for voters in the election this Sunday.
Sven R. Larson is a political economist and author. He received a Ph.D. in Economics from Roskilde University, Denmark. Originally from Sweden, he lives in America where for the past 16 years he has worked in politics and public policy. He has written several books, including Democracy or Socialism: The Fateful Question for America in 2024.