A unit set up by the public authorities in Malmö to help people leave gangs reports a doubling in contacts so far this year.
“We have twice as many cases as previously,” says Anna, a member of the unit who, because of her work, does not want to give out her last name. “People are scared. The ones who come here say they’re afraid because they think people are getting shot for such minor reasons, and it’s difficult to trust anyone.”
The unit helping people leave gangs includes members from both social services and the police. People who want to leave gangs can turn to the unit, which, for example, can help them restart their lives in another community. Often those who seek help are under threat.
The unit has been working since 2012, and has on the average helped around 40 people a year turn their backs on lives of crime. But so far this year they have already had around 30 cases, and have had to take on extra staff.
“We told our bosses we can’t deal with the caseload, and they hired another person,” Anna says.
A study from Malmö University, however, indicates that about half of those who try to leave gangs eventually return to criminal activities.
Those who seek help vary in age from 16 to 44. But the Malmö police say they are seeing fewer young people recruited by gangs. Göran Sjögren is a local police officer in Malmö.
“The police in the Seved district say people who are under 20 aren’t appearing in those networks there anymore. Hopefully that means a decline in the recruitment of younger men into those gangs,” Sjögren says, adding that he thinks the increase in violence is responsible for the drop in recruitments.