Newspaper survey

Police ignore SOS calls

Although the Swedish police have received millionrs of dollars in extra money over the last few years for more staff to increase the public's feeling of security in this Nordic nation, a survey carried out by the Stockholm newspaper Dagens Nyheter shows many calls for help are dumped into the police's waste paper basket.

A police siren is the sound some people in trouble want to hear …. But the Dagens Nyheter survey claims that in many cases …. This is only wishful thinking…

The newspaper study shows that the men and women in blue have indeed increased their numbers by 16% in the last half-decade, but this seems no guarantee that those desperate calls for help throughout this long, Scandinavian nation are getting answered.

More than 6,400 emergency calls for help have been tossed away in the first half of this year alone - because of a lack of resources, say the police. The biggest number right here in the Swedish capital.

And the police admit that some of these calls for help were top or next to top priority.

Speaking to Swedish Radio news, Swedish police chief Per Ågren in the central province of Västmanland just west of Stockholm says he has been looking at 70,000 police reports filed during the year….that 20% of these are regarded as the highest priority …but that many of these calls for help simply go unanswered.

He insists though that the police in his area do respond to the majority of the calls.

What kinds of crimes are we talking about..? Assault and battery …. Burglar alarms going off in people's homes, shops and factories…. One person calls to say a gang of youngsters are selling phoney lottery tickets to unsuspecting old-age pensioners… another reports people selling drugs on streets of Visby on the Baltic island of Gotland … another reports a man roaming around a parking lot - smashing car windows in the central city of Örebro .. … but the police told them they had nobody available to send to the scene.

Worried parents call the police to say their son has come home unstable because of drugs or alcohol and is now threatening to jump off a bridge .. but no police car shows up to stop him.

On a Stockholm archipelago island, a mentally-disturbed friend brought along by a party guest suddenly starts to smash wine glasses, rip down the host's curtains, throws furniture off the veranda and then takes a big kitchen knife to his chest before he is subdued by the other guests.

A call for help to the police results in a scolding - not only are the police not coming to fetch the man, but the home owners should blame themselves for allowing such a stranger to enter their home. And the police hang up.

One Swedish bus driver says he called the police in vain after his bus was the target of bullets, the glass windows shattered and slug zipping by only a few centimetres above a colleagues' head.

But even though a police patrol wasn't that far away, those boys in blue decided this was not enough of an emergency.

This bus driver tells the newspaper that his respect for the police has plunged.

One Swedish professor of criminology concludes that the failure of the police to respond to these calls for help is very serious indeed - since the most important role the police can play is to create a feeling of safety and security.

When a citizen is in trouble - or spots others in trouble - or others making trouble - what he or she doesn't want to hear is silence … or that there is just no available at this time.