Photo: André Pettersson/Sveriges Radio
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Jan Johansson, from the Swedish Police Union in the Northern Region. Credit: Photo: André Pettersson/Sveriges Radio
Photo: Private
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Micael Säll Lindahl, the acting regional police chief for the Northern Region. Photo: Private

Union rep: Not enough police in north for deportations

"We've worked a lot of overtime"
2:34 min

The government and migration agency have said that as many as 70,000 people can be deported this year, but some police in the sparsely populated north are saying they can't manage the extra assignments.

Speaking with Swedish Radio's program Studio Ett, Jan Johansson from the Swedish Police Union in the Northern Region, which covers about half of Sweden's land mass from Sundvall in the south to Kiruna in the north, said that the long distances make carrying out deportations difficult assignments.

"Most often you need several police to carry this out, plus there are long distances. And the closest detention center for us to do this work is in Gävle. So we have to travel to the location where the person is, and then they need to be transported to Gävle to be kept in custody... we're talking about 900 kilometers one way," said Johansson.

Johansson said that the police had been short staffed even before the large influx of refugees who are sometimes staying at accomodations in remote areas. A shortage of interpreters complicates things.

"There were few police even before this catastrophe happened. We have had trouble with our day to day work. The only way we've gotten through this situation in 2015 is thanks to the good will of the personnel who work overtime. We've worked a lot of overtime, but you can't do that forever," said Johansson.

Johansson reported the staffing shortage as a work environment matter to the national police management in the Northern Region. But his bosses turned down his request to make a risk assessment of the situation.

Micael Säll Lindahl, who is the acting regional police chief for the Northern Region, said it was difficult for management to make a risk assessment before police began performing the deportations. And he said there were national efforts underway to relieve the overworked police.

"Just because we get a case doesn't mean that we have to ride out the same day," said Säll Lindahl. He indicated that the police could reassign border police and other officers to help with deportations. He also said the force was hiring civilian border guards and administrators to lighten the load of operative police.

"All that so we can gradually adapt to this new normal level, which is much higher than before," said Säll Lindahl.

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