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More police officers has not resulted in more solved crimes. Photo: Jonas Ekströmer/Scanpix.

Sweden's larger police force has had little impact

The center-right Alliance government achieved its 2006 goal to boost the police force by 2,500 officers, but a new report by the Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention finds that the larger police force had a very limited impact, with no clear boost in the number of police on the street nor more solved crimes.

The government asked the Council to review how the new police officers were used and to what effect. The Council found that the number of new officers was closer to 2,000 when you count part-time workers and police on parental leave.

And, according to Anna Eksten, one of the researchers in the report, there are not more police on the street.

"In the outdoor operations you don't have more police than we used to and the only difference is that they're more inexperienced," Eksten tells Swedish Radio news. "So it's not so surprising that there hasn't been a higher percentage of crimes solved."

The report finds that the more experienced police officers have disappeared from the streets, leaving behind less experienced officers.

"They've done a lot so that police would be seen more, so that they would work more with crime prevention – so we thought they would spend more time in investigations of all crimes. But instead of seeing more police out on the streets, we now have more specialists," she says.

The report finds that while cooperation between police, municipalities and social services has improved, the work lacks a strong focus on results.

Eksten also says the quality of the crime prevention work is not always up to par. "One would hope that you use reliable experience and research to determine which measures have an effect and that you improve follow-up on the actions you take," Ekstam said.

Our journalism is based on credibility and impartiality. Swedish Radio is independent and not affiliated to any political, religious, financial, public or private interests.
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