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Sweden Government Lowering Age of Criminal Jurisdiction

Serious crime creeps ever further down the ages. Now the government is preparing a lowering of the age of criminal jurisdiction to somewhere between 12 and 15 years. Minister of Justice Gunnar Strömmer (M) wants to review whether the age of criminal jurisdiction should be lowered in order to combat serious organized crime.

The fight against serious crime is seen as an important explanation for the right-wing winning the election and for Gunnar Strömmer to assume the position of Minister of Justice. A significant part of the Tidö Agreement is taken up by proposals which, in summary, will involve the most repressive restructuring of Swedish criminal policy in modern times. The keywords are tougher measures, not least against organized crime.

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Gunnar Strömmer says that he came well prepared for his new assignment, but that he was still partly surprised by the extent of the problems. Among other things, it applies to how far down in age the criminality extends. When 13-14-year-olds are stopped with explosives and automatic carbines, the police cannot act as they do when it comes to older criminals.

In the Tidö agreement between the government parties and the Sweden Democrats, there is a point that the age of criminal jurisdiction should be lowered from today’s 15 years. Shortly, the government will appoint an inquiry to examine the matter.

The government has more proposals on its table that target young criminals, and the Minister of Justice also hopes that an increased exchange of information between the police, social services and schools will have an effect. The penalty discount for young people under the age of 18 must be reviewed, youth prisons must be built and parental responsibility expanded.

Since the government took office in October, gang violence has continued to plague Sweden. The shooting deaths have indeed decreased somewhat, but it is happening from a record high level and it is too early to say whether it is a lasting trend. At the same time, a series of reckless explosions have been carried out which have affected far more than the intended victim.

The development has led to the police joining forces in the Stockholm region in particular. Police officers from other parts of the country are dispatched to the capital to help hunt down the gangs. The National Audit Office states in a recent investigation that this leads to local police areas being drained of personnel and investigative resources, and that the police’s handling of mass crime is ineffective.

More prisoners will have to share a cell in the future, according to Gunnar Strömmer. The Minister of Justice also sees lowering the age of criminal jurisdiction as partly preventive work and he hopes that an increased exchange of information between different authorities will have an effect.

Gunnar Strömmer continues to have confidence in national police chief Anders Thornberg and largely leaves how it is to be done in detail to him. The government has pointed out that strengthening local work is one of their main tasks in the coming years.

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