New police units to "protect democratic freedoms"

6:34 min

The Swedish police are to create three new units to protect freedom of speech and fight internet abuse, National Police Commissioner Dan Eliasson says.

"We have listened very carefully with various groups in the Swedish society - in religious communities, among journalists, artist, politicians - and we have realised and gotten to understand that there is an increased fear in our society, that threats against the right to express yourself are becoming more and more prominent. And therefore we think it is necessary to take some action," Eliasson told Radio Sweden.

The initiative comes less than two months after the new national police authority started operating. Before the 1st of January this year, there used to be 21 different police authorities, which has now been joined into one. Dan Eliasson is the head of that new organisation.

According to Eliasson, one of the most important tasks for the new units will be to protect people's rights to carry out their religion, based on risk assessments made by the Swedish Intelligence Service, Säpo. He hold Radio Sweden that it is "an appropriate time to take this kind of action" and refers to the terrorist attacks in Copenhagen and Paris as well as recent threats against synagogues and mosques in Sweden.

"The Swedish society has been a bit slow to react to the increased threats towards religious communities, journalists, politicians and so on. I think maybe we have been a bit naive, and it is time now to take the necessary corrective measures and increase our capability to prevent and bring to justice those who commit crimes which implies that individuals are restricted in uysing their fundamental freedoms," he said.

The units will be based in Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmö.