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21 Dec, 2019 16:05

Swedish justice ministry manipulated crime statistics – study

Swedish justice ministry manipulated crime statistics – study

Sweden’s Ministry of Justice pressured the country’s Crime Prevention Council to hide, manipulate, or ignore potentially embarrassing crime statistics, a university study has found.

Sweden’s Crime Prevention Council (Brå) has a difficult task. In a country where media outlets omit police-circulated descriptions of suspects’ ethnicity, and the government actively downplays the surge in gun crime and bombings in its immigrant ghettoes, Brå is charged with compiling factual, accurate crime statistics.

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According to a study published by Linköping University this week, the government intervenes here too to downplay “politically sensitive” data.

Employees told the university researchers that their managers – acting on orders from the country’s Justice Ministry – instructed them to manipulate results on “hot potato” issues. Presumably, these results were ones that could embarrass the government, and likely dealt with issues of race or immigration.

One interviewee stated that “methodological deficiencies” was the reason given for the change.

Brå’s own statistics show an upsurge in lethal violence since 2014, particularly among criminals and in disadvantaged and immigrant neighborhoods. They also show a sharp rise in sexual violence, assaults, threats and robbery since 2015, when the country welcomed more than 160,000 refugees and migrants – more per capita than any other European country.

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Yet the government would rather these statistics remained hidden. One Brå employee compiling a report on violent crime remarked that the government delayed its publication until after last year’s election, due to its “politically sensitive results.” The report in question was also seen as humiliating, as it directly contradicted an earlier report that used a different method to conclude that violent crime was decreasing.

When it was eventually published, the report was allegedly relegated to Brå’s website, and was not printed.

Many interviewees feel that rather the organization’s problems stem from its organization under the Ministry of Justice. Rather than working independently to advise policymakers, they feel that they are working to advance their agendas instead.  

With gang crime and grenade attacks ongoing in Swedish cities, Justice Minister Morgan Johansson was the subject of a no-confidence vote called by the right-wing Sweden Democrats party last month. Johansson survived the motion, but unfiltered crime statistics have fueled Sweden’s opposition. If the Linköping University report is to be taken at face value, his ministry has every reason to stifle crime statistics.

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Against this background, a number of Swedish industry leaders have sounded the alarm. Volvo CEO Hakan Samuelsson said in July that his company is struggling to attract foreign experts due to crime concerns, while Scania CEO Leif Östling warned in October that Sweden has “taken in far too many people from outside,” and predicted “internal wars” unless the government clamps down on immigration.

Meanwhile, the Sweden Democrats, who push a tough-on-crime, anti-immigration platform, have reached their highest ever level of public support. According to a Statistics Sweden poll published this month, the party scored 22.6 percent, making them the country’s second biggest party.

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