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Union: refugee crisis puts police under heavy strain

Published fredag 13 november 2015 kl 13.55
"We are in the middle of a big storm"
(0:26 min)
Swedish police under great strain. Photo: Christian Ströberg/Sveriges Radio
Swedish police force under great strain. Photo: Christian Ströberg/Sveriges Radio

The Swedish police union said on Friday that unless extra resources were found to ease the heavy workload on its officers caused by the influx of migrants then the force was heading into a crisis situation.

"For many years we have not been given the proper resources to do the job, with too few officers, working under high pressure for a very long time. So this situation with the migrants is not putting us in a better situation," says Anna Nellberg-Dennis, first vice-chairman of the Swedish police union, and chair of Eurocop, the European police union.

"We are prepared to do our role but we need to be given the resources to do it.We can see we are heading into a crisis situation for the Swedish police force if this goes on for a long time, which it will do," she adds.

The workload of the Swedish police force has increased steadily since the first migrants started arriving in greater numbers this autumn. In mid-week, Sweden's Interior Minister reintroduced temporary border controls, which has placed an added strain on the police.

"This is an extraordinary situation in Europe and the World. We have never faced anything like this before and we need to have the training," says  Anna Nellberg-Dennis.

She tells Radio Sweden that more police officers are needed, along with more equipment and education, which she says has been drastsically cutback in recent years.

"One of the first things they cut down on was education. If something new happens, a new law, you are supposed to learn it yourself," she says.

The high workload and strain, she says, has also not been help by a major restructuring of the Swedish police force.

"On top of all this we are also experiencing the biggest restructuring of the Swedish police force since 1965. It's very unclear and it has also added to the pressure, we are in the middle of a big storm."

The police union has long campaigned for higher wages, and says it will not rule out strike action in the future.

"The politicians and society needs to ask itself what can of society do we want to have? The police play a crucial role in upholding democracy and law and order. What happens if the police do not come when you call them?," says Anna Nellberg-Dennis, first vice-chairman of the Swedish police union, and chair of Eurocop, the European police union.

The European Commission on Friday formally authorised the temporary reimposition of border controls by Sweden and Germany's extension of frontier checks.

Our journalism is based on credibility and impartiality. Swedish Radio is independent and not affiliated to any political, religious, financial, public or private interests.
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