Sweden’s gang culture will only become “worse and worse” as a new generation grows up in a world where involvement in drug dealing and gun violence is commonplace, a Swedish police officer told Norwegian news outlet Document.
The officer, who is only referred to as Niklas, revealed the extent of violence occurring on Swedish streets, particularly in the capital of Stockholm. He said the country had “lost its grip” on law and order, with gangs now effectively having a license to operate free from reproach.
Vulnerable children are often recruited at an early age to conduct business for criminal gangs and see their involvement as a status symbol; parents, meanwhile, remain reluctant to intervene or seek support when this occurs.
“Ten to fifteen years ago, it was about shoplifting when we were dealing with 14-year-olds, but now they deal in drugs and handle automatic weapons,” Niklas told the site.
“Older criminals use children to avoid being caught themselves, and for the children, it is a sign of status to be chosen. It starts as a cool thing for a kid who can’t see consequences and ends up getting involved in gang conflicts,” he added.
Niklas lamented the involvement of “very vulnerable” young children, many of whom are under the age of 15 and therefore below the minimum age for criminal responsibility in Sweden.
“Who should they turn to when they feel sick or regretful? To the school counselor who is there for an hour or two per week and is replaced every term?” he asked.
Recounting his own experiences with children absorbed into the criminal world and attempts by social services to intervene, Niklas said that while some social workers can be “brilliant, competent, and committed,” intervention by social services “can be a disaster.”
“The problem is that those who are skilled and committed burn out and eventually disappear,” he said, adding that it was not uncommon in areas with the most-reported gang violence for social worker turnover to reach 100 percent within a year.
Furthermore, the hands of social workers are tied when parents refuse to cooperate, which is often the case for fear of retaliation, the police officer added. “Then you realize that nothing can be done.”
When asked how likely it will be that Sweden sees an improvement in the escalating issue going forward, Niklas remained pessimistic.
“There is no chance. It only gets worse and worse,” he replied, explaining that children are being brought up to “never talk to a police officer” and claiming “there is simply no respect for the police” in crime-riddled areas.
He refused to rule out the possibility of a serious incident occurring between gun-wielding minors and police officers because “that’s what reality looks like.”
“There are children handling loaded automatic weapons. They can find the trigger and have no objections; they can’t even spell the word ‘consequence.'”