Photo: Ekot

Police too overworked to chase pimps and johns

The number of men charged with the crime of paying for sex in Sweden has dropped by nearly a quarter in the last year due to a lack of police resources, according to the national crime prevention council BRÅ.

“You need actual physical investigations – to be out on streets and squares, on the look-out at hotels and apartments where there’s prostitution,” Inspector Simon Häggström at Stockholm’s police prostitution unit told Swedish Radio.

“You don’t find out about these kinds of crimes when you’re sitting behind a desk.”

Häggström’s unit was set up in 2009 and given a major injection of resources to step up surveillance of johns, pimps and prostitutes.

“Then we arrested a huge number of men paying for sex,” he said.

However since then his team have also taken on the task of investigating alleged crimes, spending about 30 percent of their time deskbound.

According to the Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention the lower police presence on the streets has led to a 23 percent drop in the numbers of men charged under Sweden’s sex purchase law, which makes it illegal to pay for sex but not to sell it.

The head of Stockholm City’s criminal investigation department acknowledged that fewer police on the streets has led to fewer prosecutions.

“This kind of crime demands many hours work in the field, and if we had more people we would arrest more,” she said, adding that the number of police working on prostitution will be doubled in the autumn.

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