Jerzy Sarnecki, professor of criminology at the University of Stockholm. Photo: Claudio Bresciani/Scanpix
Jerzy Sarnecki, professor of criminology at the University of Stockholm. Photo: Claudio Bresciani/Scanpix/TT

Criminologist: Tougher penalties “not very effective”

Jerzy Sarnecki: What’s more preventive is the probability of being caught
4:39 min

Sharpened penalties is one potential measure considered by the government against the recent arson attacks on cars in Swedish cities. But criminology professor Jerzy Sarnecky thinks this is unlikely to have a preventive effect.

Over the past few weeks there has been a large number of arson attacks on cars across Malmö and other Swedish cities, including Stockholm and Norrköping.

On Wednesday the Swedish government announced that it is reviewing a number of different options for dealing with the problem. One of the measures proposed is to sharpen the penalty for criminal damage to be on the same level as the crime of theft.

Jerzy Sarnecky, professor of criminology at the University of Stockholm, is not convinced of the efficiency of this suggestion:

“According to criminological research, tougher penalties are not very effective for preventing this kind of crime. What is much more preventive is the probability of being caught,” he told Radio Sweden. 

Sarnecky said he perceives the harder penalties as more of a symbolic gesture from the government. Among the different measures proposed, Sarnecky prefers the idea of improving the efficiency of the police, and told Radio Sweden he supports the use of surveillance drones by the Malmö police.

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