Malmö shooting
Photo: Thomas Borberg/Scanpix

Fatal shootings on the rise in Sweden

Criminologist blames illegal weapons and segregation for fatal violence
4:42 min

Since 2010, there have been five times as many shootings in Sweden's three major cities than in cities in neighbouring Nordic countries, Swedish Television News reports.

Last Friday night, a 26-year-old man was shot dead at a school in Biskopsgården in Gothenburg. The man was the latest victim of gang-related crime in Sweden.

The incident is far from unique. Since 2010, 45 people have been shot dead in Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmö. This figure is four times as high as the number of fatal shootings in Copenhagen, Oslo, and Helsinki.

The number of non-fatal shootings is also far higher in Swedish cities, than in neighbouring countries' urban centres.

According to Copenhagen police, the city has had 122 shootings since 2011. During the same period, Gothenburg has had twice as many, and Stockholm nearly three times as many shootings.

Neither police, nor experts, have managed to explain the reason behind the escalating violence. Some, however, point to the role of vengeance, with each person who is killed having a number of friends or associates looking for revenge.

Number of people injured in shootings in major Nordic cities 2010 to June 30, 2015
Stockholm: 189*
Gothenburg: 109
Malmö: 63
Copenhagen: 30
Oslo: 30
Helsinki: 10 (approx.)

*Includes Stockholm county. Source: County councils/police.

Number of fatalities caused by shootings
Stockholm: 21
Gothenburg: 17
Malmö: 7
Copenhagen: 6
Oslo: 3
Helsinki: 2

Source: Swedish Television

One should be careful not to over-dramatize these statistics, cautioned Sven Granath, a criminologist with the National Council for Crime Prevention in Sweden.

For example, he noted that Stockholm county is quite a large area in which a fifth of population in Sweden lives, and this big size makes it hard to compare to Helsinki, Copenhagen and Oslo.

However, Granath told Radio Sweden that fatal violence in this country is more concentrated in the main cities than, for example, in Finland, where the violence is more spread out through the countryside.

Firearms are more commonly used in lethal violence in Sweden, according to Granath, who believes that more resources could help Swedish authorities keep illegal weapons out of the country.

More violence in Sweden, he believes, is connected to other serious crimes, for example, gang- or drug-related crimes, which according to him are more entrenched in Sweden and Denmark than in Finland and Norway. 

"I think we have in Sweden more connections with crimes in other parts of Europe," he says, for example, connections to Germany, Denmark, some of the eastern European countries and Balkan countries. 

"We also have, like many other European countries, more problems with segregated neighborhoods in the major cities, which might not, at least in Norway and Helsinki, have occurred in the same way yet," Granath remarked.

Reducing unemployment in urban areas could be a solution to this, Granath said, adding that fighting drug crimes, blackmail and extortion could also help reduce violence.


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