Spending on bodyguards doubled in ten years
Sunday marks 30 years since Prime Minister Olof Palme was fatally shot in the back walking home from the cinema without a bodyguard. Though personnel costs for bodyguards have doubled in the last decade, most party leaders and ministers are unaccompanied much of the day.
Daily newspaper Dagens Nyheter reports that since 2004, the year MP Anna Lindh was stabbed and killed, the cost for security detail at Säpo (the Swedish Security Service) has increased by 143 percent (from SEK 207 million in 2004 to SEK 502 million in 2014).
"With increased funding we have begun protecting more people from the central government than before," said Susanna Trehörning, chief of the unit at Säpo in charge of protecting persons.
Trehörning manages between 120 and 140 bodyguards who protect members of the central government, parliament and the royal court. In 2004, when Lindh was murdered that force was 93 guards. An inquiry conducted after her death found that at least 10 guards were needed to protect one person 24-hours a day.
"The fact that we're not there doesn't have anythng to do with resources," Trehörning told the newspaper. "We make an assessment and decide we don't need to be there. I feel very confident with those assessments."
Ewa Stenberg, a political reporter for Dagens Nyheter who followed Säpo's bodyguards and wrote in depth about the personal security operation in 2012, wrote Wednesday that despite an increased threat fom terrorists the extra spending has not meant more bodyguards. Säpo has instead invested in preventitive and analytical work, including monitoring social media as well as classified surveillance or foreign intelligence.
Stenberg told Radio Sweden it was difficult to evaluate what the extra spending meant for the safety of politicians.
"I can see how they are protecting the buildings the politicians work in, but when they go outside the buildings, out on the streets sometimes I meet them without any bodyguard," said Stenberg. "that is difficult to understand even though you have more analyses or work in advance to try and look for those people who might pose a threat to politicians, what they are doing and where they are."