Efforts to fight gang wars in Södertälje pay off

2:55 min

A police operation aimed at combating gang wars has had a positive impact in Södertälje, a town long marred by violent conflicts between criminal networks.

Following the successful efforts in the town, this autumn 40 new police officers will be stationed in Södertälje, which is about 30 kilometres southwest of Stockholm. The police have received extra funding for training and equipment and will work together with the municipality and other authorities to stop the gang wars, which have, among other things, involved shoot-outs in public spaces.

“We have to see results….Our aim is for people to gain much more trust in the police and in our measures and that we will be able to have an impact by ensuring that different criminal activities and people disappear from these areas,” regional police chief Peter Nylind told Swedish Radio.

In 2010, Södertälje was the scene of a fierce conflict between two criminal gangs: X-team, which is a subgroup of Bandidos, on one side and the Södertälje Network on the other. After several murders, including a double murder of a football player and his brother, local police launched an intensive operation in the area and 18 men ended up convicted for involvement in the murders and for other severe crimes.

Today, things are much calmer in Södertälje, according to Nylind. He said that, compared to just a few years ago, there is less crime in the town and the criminal networks have been stymied.

“More crime has been uncovered, a few people have been convicted, and the efforts have had a calming effect on people in the area, including criminals. It has also led to improved safety in Södertälje,” said Nylind.

However, Nylind added that the problems have not gone away completely and that there is still crime in Södertälje.

Statistics from the Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention also show that the number of attempted murders and weapons crimes have gone down in Södertälje, while crimes like robberies and unlawful threats have more or less remained at the same level.

In February, the police’s National Operations Department classified the Södertälje districts of Ronna, Geneta and Lina as high-priority areas, along with 14 other districts in Sweden, and said the situation there is acute, with problems so comprehensive that all authorities must play a part in improving security.

Problems noted included the police having a hard time carrying out their duties, the rise of violent religious extremism and the development of parallel social structures.