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'Quite Expected' Swedish Report on Immigrant Over-Representation in Crime Sparks Racism Concerns

© AFP 2023 / Stig-Ake JonssonA group of migrants off an incoming train walk down a platform as they are accompanied by the police at the Swedish end of the bridge between Sweden and Denmark near Malmoe on 12 November 2015.
A group of migrants off an incoming train walk down a platform as they are accompanied by the police at the Swedish end of the bridge between Sweden and Denmark near Malmoe on 12 November 2015. - Sputnik International, 1920, 26.08.2021
A number of Swedish politicians and experts saw the report on immigrants' over-representation in heavy crime as a given and warned that the statistics may be “misused by racists”.
People with a foreign background are over-represented among criminal suspects, a long-awaited report by the Swedish Crime Prevention Council (Brå) has concluded.
Brå has for years declined to include ethnicity in its reports, claiming that ethnic profiling was unethical. In 2018, it finally caved in to the pressure and agreed to perform such a study.
In its new report, Brå found that foreign-born residents are 2.5x as likely to be registered as a criminal suspect as those whose parents were both born in Sweden.
Having studied registered crimes during the 2015-2018 period, Brå concluded that one in twenty Swedish men had been suspected of committing a crime, while the ratio for men with immigrant parents was one in seven. Among men who immigrated from Africa or whose parents did so, almost one in three were criminal suspects during the four-year period.
Immigrants' over-representation in crime is mainly shown in certain types of crime such as robbery and lethal violence, where second-generation immigrants are suspected five times as often as native-born Swedes of the same age. First-generation immigrants, on the other hand, stand out in rape and are suspected three times as often as native-born Swedes of the same age.'
One of the takeaways is that second-generation immigrants are even more likely to become criminals than the first, and that this over-representation has increased.
Reasons Unknown
Remarkably, Brå didn't address the reasons behind the over-representation.
“It is difficult to say what the over-representation is due to. There are also many factors that we can not control. An important lesson from our study is that we still know very little about the underlying processes of the over-representation that exists,” Brå's David Shannon told the newspaper Dagens Nyheter, suggesting that a different type of study was required.
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Jerzy Sarnecki, a professor of crimonology, said that “in general terms” the report contained no news. According to him, since 1974, 39 different studies have been conducted on the over-representation of immigrants in crime statistics, and all have shown the same thing.
“It shows that there is a very strong political pressure to investigate the issue of over-representation, Sarnecki told national broadcaster SVT. “The big question is what it depends on, and that question is very poorly investigated.”
“Quite Expected”
The political reaction toward the report was a divided one.
Justice Minister Morgan Johansson saw a risk that Brå's the statistics would be “misused by racists”.
“Everyone should be judged according to their actions and not their origin,” Johansson told SVT, adding that the figures were “quite expected”. “It is important that you don't use this to make it appear that immigrants are an inferior kind of people,” he said, calling for more preventive action for the marginalised minorities.
The Left Party's legal policy spokeswoman Linda Snecker expressed her concerned about the report.
“It's good with information and statistics, but then you have to use it in the right way. I am worried and that many want to use the report in a racist context instead of being solution-oriented and looking at the reasons why immigrants are over-represented – such as income, level of education, health and overcrowding,” she told the newspaper Expressen.
The national-conservative Sweden Democrats perceived the Brå report as proof that they have been right in their anti-immigrant stance.
“Crime in Sweden is to a very high degree linked to a failed immigration policy,” Sweden Democrat legal policy spokesman Adam Marttinen said.
He pointed out cultural differences as the underlying reason, pointing out sexual crimes in particular. “There are different values about the role of women in society”, Marttinen said.
“I think it also has to do with the fact that we have a segregated society where Swedish children and young people are seen as easier prey”, Marttinen mused.
Soaring Crime
Unlike its fellow EU nations, Sweden has seen a spike in violent crime in recent decades, making it the worst country in the EU in terms of fatal shootings per year, trailing only Croatia in a recent survey. The country's Crime Prevention Council (Brå) called this trend unique and assigned blame to the criminal environments engaged in drug trafficking and other criminal groups, which reportedly account for eight out of ten shootings.
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As the debate has long been centred on the role of immigrants in heavy crime, outgoing Prime Minister Stefan Löfven, after years of denial, finally admitted the role of poor integration in a turning-point speech.
Most recently, Erik Nord, the head of the Greater Gothenburg police area, acknowledged a link between mass shootings and immigration, emphasising that “basically everyone who shoots or is shot in gang conflicts originates from the Balkans, the Middle East, or North or East Africa”.
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