Extortion is on the rise

Extortion is on the rise in Sweden. In just ten years the number of reports to the police have increased sevenfold - many of them involving youths.

Extortion is becoming increasingly common in Swedish society. In 2003, the police recieved 740 reports - in 2013, the number was 5,300, according to statistics from the Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention (Brå).

"We can see both a rising inclination to report the crime and to use extortion," Johanna Skinnari at Brå, tells Swedish Radio. "For instance, there are instances of extortion among youths, something that maybe wasn't as common ten years ago. So there is a new extortion phenomenon."

And the increasingly younger perpetrators are starting to show up in statistics. In the beginning of the 2000s, the number of people under 18 years of age suspected of extortion was about 25 a year. Over the last couple of years, it has been around 100 a year. Often, the "debt" in question is related to real or perceived offences, according to Skinnari. "So they put a pricetag to the percieved insult and demand payment," she says. 

Liam in Sundsvall was extorted by a peer. "He wanted 5,000 kronor that same night and said that if I didn't get him the money, he would shoot me and my family," he says.

Fifteen-year-old Kristian says the extortion in school has affected his whole life. "At school I had to stay in all the time. I didn't go to lunch with the others, because I didn't trust them. I had to change my routines, i didn't take the bus because I was scared he would get on it. He must have thought I was easy prey," Kristian tells Swedish Radio.