Ministers Anders Ygeman, left, and Morgan Johansson. Photo: Izabelle Nordfjell / TT.
Ministers Anders Yngeman, left, and Morgan Johansson. Photo: Izabelle Nordfjell / TT.

Ministers pledge action against car burnings

Justice Minister Johansson: It affects everybody who lives in the area
3:28 min

The government on Wednesday pledged allocating more police in areas with high criminality and tougher penalties in response to a spate of arson attacks on cars that has plagued residents in Malmö and even other cities in Sweden. 

On Tuesday evening, emergency crews in Malmö were called out for a ninth consecutive night to extinguish cars that had been set alight by unknown arsonists.

At a press conference Wednesday, Home Affairs minister Anders Ygeman and Justice minister Morgan Johansson promised tougher penalties and a speedier way of putting culprits behind bars.

"What is absolutely clear is that we need to speed up prosecutions in some cases," said Justice and Migration minister Morgan Johansson.

The government wants to review the possibility of setting up special emergency courts, a proposal abandoned in the past, but that may be possible with new technology today. According to Johansson, some of the more straight-forward-cases that today takes months to go through the legal system, could take only weeks, or perhaps even days with emergency courts.

The government wants to sharpen the penalty for criminal damage to be on the same level as the crime of theft.

"For an individual it is just as bad to get one's car torched as it is to have it stolen," Morgan Johansson said.

He also proposed enabling the use of more surveillance cameras in problem areas. "We think it may have a preventive effect. But above all it will be easier to investigate crimes," the Justice Minister said.

Prime Minister Stefan Löfven promised earlier on Wednesday to draft in more police, and said that he feels for the residents in the affected areas.

"We'll do everything. No government can promise that all crime will disappear, but we have already a grip of this. We will step up police resources, for example, but more is needed," Löfven said.

Annie Lööf, the leader of the opposition Centre Party, said that the government's response to the car fires and emergency crews in vulnerable areas, was totally inadequate.

"It's a total lack of leadership and of concrete and energetic measures," she said to news agency TT. 

More police officers in vulnerable areas and stricter punishment is urgently needed, according to Lööf.

"What the government has presented today is a broad overview.We need concrete action."
 
In a budget motion last spring, the Centre Party proposed SEK 2.4 billion more in funding to the police, to expand the police force by 2,000 officers and be able to pay higher wages

"The police force is now on its knees. Police officers are quitting because they are dissatisfied with their work situation," said Lööf.

"There is an insecurity that is spreading in vulnerable areas, especially among residents who see their cars burned. Thugs are not supposed to be able to run wild," she added.

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