Swedish Police Authority
|Swedish Police Authority
|Common name||Swedish Police (Polisen)|
Coat of arms and wordmark of the Swedish Police
|Formed||1 January, 2015|
|Annual budget||SEK 21 billion (2015)|
|Legal personality||Governmental: Government agency|
|Minister responsible||Anders Ygeman, Minister for Home Affairs|
|Agency executive||Dan Eliasson, National Police Commissioner|
The Swedish Police Authority (Swedish: Polismyndigheten) is the central administrative authority for the police in Sweden, responsible for law enforcement, general social order and public safety within the country. The agency is headed by the National Police Commissioner, who is appointed by the Government and has the sole responsibility for all activities of the police. Although formally organised under the Ministry of Justice, the Swedish police is—similar to other authorities in Sweden—essentially autonomous, in accordance with the constitution.[a] The agency is governed by general policy instruments and is subject to a number of sanctions and oversight functions, to ensure that the exercise of public authority is in compliance with regulations. Police officers typically wear a dark-blue uniform consisting of combat style trousers with a police duty belt, a polo shirt or a long sleeve button shirt, and a side-cap embellished with a metal cap badge. The standard equipment includes a handgun, pepper spray and an expandable baton.
The first modern police force in Sweden was established in the mid-1800s, and the police remained in effect under local government control up until 1965, when it was nationalized and became increasingly centralized, to finally organize under one authority January 1, 2015. Concurrently with this change, the Swedish Security Service formed its own agency. The new authority was created to address shortcomings in the division of duties and responsibilities, and to make it easier for the Government to demand greater accountability. The agency is organized into seven police regions and eight national departments. It is one of the largest government agencies in Sweden, with more than 28,500 employees, of which police officers accounted for approximately 75 percent of the personnel in 2014. It takes two and a half years to become a police officer in Sweden, including six months of paid workplace practice. Approximately a third of all police students are women, and in 2011 women accounted for 40 per cent of all employees.
- 1 History
- 2 Organization
- 3 Specialists
- 4 Oversight
- 5 Police training
- 6 Women police
- 7 Equipment
- 8 Uniform and rank structure
- 9 See also
- 10 Notes
- 11 References
- 12 External links
The first modern police force in Sweden was established in the mid-1800s. Prior to that, police work weren't carried out by a law enforcement agency in the modern sense. In rural areas, the king's bailiff (fogde) were responsible for law and order until the establishment of counties in the 1630s. In the cities, local government were made responsible for law and order, by way of a royal decree issued by Magnus III in the 13th century. The cities financed and organized various watchmen, who patrolled the streets. In the late 1500s in Stockholm the paroling duties were in large part taken over by a special corps of salaried city guards. The city guard was organized, uniformed and armed like a military unit; responsible for interventions against various crimes and the arrest of suspected criminals. These guards were assisted by the military, fire patrolmen, and a civilian unit that didn't wear a uniform, but instead wore a small badge around their neck. The civilian unit monitored compliance with city ordinances relating to—for example—sanitation issues, traffic and taxes. In 1776, Gustav III ushered in a fundamental change in how police work was organized in Stockholm, modelled after how law enforcement was organized in Paris at the time. The office of Police Commissioner (polismästare) was created, with the first title holder being Nils Henric Liljensparre, who was given command of the civilian unit responsible for law and order in the city, now partly financed by the State. The reform was considered a success, as it made the streets safer. However, the system of fire patrolmen and the city guard was still kept intact and administered separately.
In the mid-1800s, during a time of widespread social unrest, it became increasingly clear that law enforcement didn't function properly. In 1848, the riots marsoroligheterna, broke out on the streets of Stockholm, inspired by a wave of revolutions in Europe. Large crowds vandalized the city, shouting slogans of reform and calling for the abolition of monarchy. King Oscar I responded with military force, killing thirty. Simultaneously in the rural areas, local county administrators (länsman) was in charge of law and order, reporting to the county governors. The office was a mixture of police chief, tax official and lower-level prosecutor, who in turn was assisted by a number of part-time police officers (fjärdingsmän). Increasingly, their time was spent on tax matters, instead of doing actual police work. More police officers were duly employed, some dubbed "extra police", devoted much more exclusively to police work. In 1850, a new type of organization was finally launched in Stockholm, where the entire police force was placed under one agency. The title of Police Constable (poliskonstapel) was used for the first time in Sweden, and the police were also given their own uniforms and was armed with batons and sabers. The police also began to specialize. In 1853, for example, four constables were put in charge of criminal investigations, thus creating the first detective bureau in Sweden.
In the early 1900s, the Swedish police had yet to uniformly organize or become regulated in legislation. The system of "extra police" did not work well, partly because it was often a temporary position lacking job security, making it difficult to recruit and retain skilled personnel. Subsequently, the Riksdag adopted the first Police Act in 1925. The act essentially codified structures already in place, but also introduced a more unified police and better working conditions for the police officers. Officers began wearing the same dark-blue uniforms nationwide, with the same weapons and helmets. Local ties remained strong, however, with 554 small districts that had great freedom to organize police work as before, even though the State now had the power to issue a number of regulations about everything from the leadership to the duties of the police. There were still some problems maintaining order when larger crowds gathered, as evidenced by the Ådalen shootings in 1931, where the military was called in as reinforcement during a violent labor dispute, killing five. In rural areas, the detective work were also often rudimentary. Accordingly, the Swedish State Police (statspolisen) was established in 1932, which would complement the municipal police.
The Swedish police continued to be organized under local government control for more than 30 years. The lack of co-ordination made police work difficult on a national level, and ineffective in an increasingly mobile world, which prompted the nationalization of the Swedish police in 1965. The police became more centralized and now organized under the Ministry of Justice in three levels. The National Police Board (rikspolisstyrelsen) was the central administrative authority, primarily tasked with coordinating and supporting the local police. The local police was reduced to 119 districts, led by a District Police Commissioner, answering to a Chief Commissioner at the County Administrative Board. In 1998, the number of police districts was further reduced and divided along county lines into 21 local police authorities. Following the Gothenburg Riots in 2001, the Swedish police reformed their riot-control strategy to a more nonconfrontational model, based on Danish and Dutch Police tactics still used today. On 1 January 2015, the police reorganized again into a unified agency, with the Swedish Security Service becoming a fully independent agency; the biggest overhaul of the Swedish police since it was nationalized in 1965. The new authority was created to address shortcomings in the organization of the division of duties and responsibilities, to reduce differences between police regions, and to make it easier for the Government to demand greater accountability. The reorganization is expected to last several years.
Swedish government authorities enjoy a high degree of independence. Under the 1974 Instrument of Government, neither the Government nor individual ministers have the right to influence how an agency decide in a particular case or on the application of legislation. This also applies to the Swedish police, who instead is governed by general policy instruments, such as laws passed by the Riksdag and by the appointment of executives.[a] The Swedish Police Authority is led by a National Police Commissioner, who is appointed by the Government and has the sole responsibility for all activities of the police. The Commissioner holds regular meetings with a non-executive Public Council to satisfy the need for transparency, and is assisted by the Commissioner's Office, tasked with managerial support and performance management. The agency is organized into seven police regions and eight national departments. Six of the eight national departments are responsible for various support processes needed for day-to-day operations (e.g. communications, finance and human resources). The other two are the National Forensics Centre and National Operations Department. Furthermore, there is an internal auditing unit, reporting directly to the Commissioner, and the Special Investigations Division. The internal auditing unit review and propose changes to the internal control and governance of the agency, while the Special Investigations Division deal with professional misconduct. In 2014, the Swedish Police Authority had 28,689 employees, of which 8,638 where civilian employees, making it one of the largest government agencies in Sweden. The number of employees have increased with approximately 18 per cent since 2004. The biggest union is the Swedish Police Union with about 20,500 active members.
|Swedish Police Authority organizational chart [b]|
Management Support Core activity
The Government also appoints a 15-member non-executive council, alongside the Commissioner, to satisfy the need for transparency and citizen participation. The commissioner serves as chairman of the council and has an obligation to keep the council informed of the activities of the police, especially on matters concerning professional misconduct. The council should in turn monitor and give counsel to the police. It is required to meet six times per year and must be composed of at least one member from each party serving the Riksdag, and should beyond that proportionally reflect the election results. Police regions are also similarly mandated to have a public council, but are instead led by a Regional Police Chief.
National Operations Department
The National Operations Department (Nationella operativa avdelningen) is tasked with assisting the local police regions and is in charge of international police cooperation and all national operations. The head of the department, currently Mats Löfving, serves as the Deputy Director of the Swedish Police Authority. The department has the power to allocate extra resources, if needed, and has a mandate to initiate nationwide operations and activities. It is also responsible for investigating crimes as prescribed by law to be conducted at the national level, such as corruption and war crimes. Furthermore, it handles all contacts with the Swedish Security Service, Armed Forces and the National Defence Radio Establishment, and manages sensitive information about terrorism and signals intelligence. The department acts like as a secretariat for the Swedish Economic Crime Authority, and also supervise the National Task Force, along with: police aviation, witness protection, undercover operations, border control operations, complex computer crimes, the bomb disposal units and some criminal intelligence operations (regarding e.g. serious organized crime).
Police regions and subdivisions
The agency is organized into seven police regions, based on the geographical boundaries of several counties, where each region has an overall responsibility for the police work in their geographical area. The work is organized under a regional secretariat, operations unit, an investigations unit and intelligence unit—all led by a Regional Police Chief. Police regions generally investigate crime without a strong local connection and less common crimes, requiring specialized knowledge or the use of special surveillance methods or technologies not typically available at lower levels in the agency. Police regions encompass approximately 1,900 employees in the Bergslagen Region, with around 830,000 inhabitants, up to 7,400 employees in the Stockholm Region, with a population of 2.18 million. There are also are 27 police districts—organized under the regions—tasked with leading, coordinating, monitoring and analysing the operational activities in their geographical area, which is typically based on the boundaries of a county. The work is organized under a secretariat, an investigations unit and intelligence unit, plus a unit for the local police areas—all led by a District Police Chief, who in turn answer to a Regional Police Chief. The districts are responsible for, inter alia, serious crime or more complex criminal investigations (e.g. murder) and other cases where it may be inappropriate for the local police to handle investigations, for example sex crimes or cases involving domestic violence. At the bottom of the organizational ladder there are 85-90 local police areas, forming the bulk of the police. Local police areas are based on the boundaries of one or more municipalities, or in the case of larger metropolitan areas, several boroughs. The local police is responsible for the majority of all police interventions, general crime prevention, the traffic police, as well as basic criminal investigation duties. There are between 50-180 employees in a typical local police area, or at least one local police officer per 5,000 inhabitants in disadvantaged areas. In 2014, a government report expected that the local police would account for about 50 per cent of all police interventions, post-reorganization.
The Swedish police has a number of specially trained police officers equipped to deal with many different tasks, often organized in groups or units under the National Operations Department or under a police region.
National Task Force and Piketen
Piketen (from the French word piquet) is a tactical response unit based in the major metropolitan areas of Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmö. The unit is sometimes also seconded to neighbouring districts in connection with rapidly evolving events. Piketen was formed in the wake of two major incidents. On 23 August 1973, a robbery in Stockholm devolved into a hostage-taking situation and subsequent six-day siege by the police. The phrase Stockholm syndrome was coined by the criminologist and psychiatrist Nils Bejerot in connection with the protracted siege, as a state where hostages start to sympathize with their captor. One and a half years later the Red Army Faction occupied the West German Embassy in Stockholm, killing two hostages. Subsequently, the unit was formed in 1979 as the regular police force were deemed insufficiently trained and ill-equipped to deal with similar events. Today the unit is used for particularly difficult or dangerous operations and often work in teams with a crisis negotiator. The National Task Force (Nationella insatsstyrkan) is a special police tactics unit organized under the National Operations Department. It was originally formed in 1991 as a counter-terrorist task force in the wake of the assassination of Prime Minister Olof Palme, on the recommendations put forward by a 1988 Government inquiry. It has evolved into a national police resource deployed in extremely dangerous situations, e.g. high-risk interventions, search and surveillance operations, hostage situations, tactical negotiations and various kinds of underwater operations.
Other units and specialists
The Swedish Marine Police (sjöpolisen) have around 12 boats in total at their disposal. Most common types are high-performance RIBs, capable of speeds up to 60 knots, or CB90-class boats — 15-metre patrol vessels, capable of speeds of up to 40 knots. There are about 80 marine police officers in total, half of which work only during the summer. The marine police coordinate with several other agencies and organizations, like the Coast Guard, Customs Service and the Sea Rescue Society.
The Swedish Police Air Support Unit (polisflyget)—organized the National Operations Department—employs approximately 60 personnel, currently operating six Eurocopter EC135 from five different bases; ranging from Boden in the far north to Östersund, Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmö in the south. This fleet will gradually be phased out 2015–2016, and will be replaced with seven new Bell 429 helicopters. The helicopter units are fully manned 24 hours a day, often tasked with providing aerial surveillance, assisting in vehicle pursuits, search and rescue operations. The helicopters are also used for transport, to minimize time to critical interventions by bomb technicians and officers of the National Task Force. Black Hawk helicopters, operated by the Armed Forces and on 24-hour stand-by, are also available to the National Task Force at their request.
In Sweden there are about 400 police dogs with as many dog handlers, available to all police districts and used approximately 25,000–30,000 times in total per year. Police Region West has a national responsibility to coordinate, develop and review the regulatory framework for dog handlers. The region is also responsible for the dog training school. The most common dog breeds are German Shepherd Dogs (70%) and Belgian Malinois (20%). There are also mounted police forces in the counties of Stockholm, Västra Götaland and Skåne, with approximately 60 horses in total or twenty horses in each mounted unit, which can be dispatched to other counties. Operations are planned and carried out locally, according to a joint national concept developed by Police Region Stockholm.
A number of sanctions and oversight functions exist to ensure that the application of legislation and the exercise of public authority are in compliance with regulations. The most serious cases of professional misconduct may be prosecuted under the Swedish Penal Code as misuse of office (tjänstefel), carrying a maximum penalty of six years imprisonment. Other provisions may also apply. Less serious cases of misconduct or negligent performance of duties may lead to disciplinary action in the form of a warning, wage deduction or ultimately dismissal.[c] A common misconception about police misconduct in Sweden is that investigations are carried out by colleagues, which is not the case. The Swedish police is subject to oversight by several external authorities:
- Chancellor of Justice – Provides a general oversight function on behalf of the Government, designed to ensure that officials are in compliance with regulations
- Commission on Security and Integrity Protection – Monitors the use of secret surveillance techniques, assumed identities and other associated activities, as well as the processing of personal data
- Data Inspection Board – Supervise the use of registers and the processing of personal data
- National Audit Office – Responsible for efficiency audits of the police
- Parliamentary Ombudsman – Ensure compliance with laws and other statutes governing authorities on behalf of the Riksdag, with particular attention to abuses of authority vis-a-vis individuals
- Work Environment Authority – Responsible for the supervision of issues relating to the working environment
Additionally, internal review and control is managed by the Special Investigations Division (Avdelningen för särskilda utredningar), an independent division within the Swedish Police Authority. The division is responsible for investigating crimes committed by police employees, including civilian employees and off-duty officers, and complaints filed against prosecutors, judges and police students. The head of the division is appointed by the Government and operations are funded as a separate appropriation item. Officers work closely with a special chamber of prosecutors reporting directly to the Prosecutor-General of Sweden, tasked with leading investigations and deciding which cases should be processed. The division is also obliged to provide support to other external supervisory authorities. In 2013, the police received 6,212 complaints of misconduct, of which the most common complaint was misuse of office. Other common complaints were assault and theft. The prosecutor decided not to initiate an investigation in 71 per cent of the cases. The matter of supervision of the police have been the subject of several Government inquiries, most recently by a parliamentary committee in June 2015, which recommended the creation of a new supervisory body. As of August 2015[update], the recommendation is under consideration by various referral bodies.
In 1870, the police in Stockholm introduced a one-year practice-oriented education. Before this, new recruits studied laws and regulations on their own, while they got a very elementary introduction to the job by their colleagues and some lectures by officers, lasting in total only a few weeks. The country's first police academy was established in Uppsala in 1910, partly financed by local government. Similar schools were established at later dates in the rest of the country. In 1925, with the establishment of the Police Act, the Government took over the Police School in Stockholm, established eight years prior. This school later became the National Police Academy (Polishögskolan), located at a former military base in Solna, under the stewardship of the National Police Board. In the early 1970s the education consisted of 40 weeks of theoretical and practical training, followed by two years of field training. In 1998, the Government launched a new police education programme lasting two years, followed by six months of paid workplace practice at a local police authority, which made you qualified to apply for the position as a Police Constable.
Since 2015, the National Police Academy is entirely outsourced by the Swedish Police Authority and training is carried out at three universities: Södertörn, Umeå and Växjö. The training now covers five terms, and the last two include six months of paid workplace practice as a Police Trainee (equivalent to two and a half years of full-time studying). In addition to basic eligibility for higher education, citizenship, and some specific entry requirements, applicants must have a drivers licence, be able to swim, have the personal qualities deemed necessary for the profession and meet the physical requirements of the job. In 2013, of the nearly seven thousand applicants, just over 300 of them matriculated into their first year of school, with a third of them being women. Candidates for the role of police chief must have a university degree relevant to the position or be a graduate of the National Police Academy, or both. There is also a special 18-month leadership training programme organized by the police, available for prospective police chiefs. Prior to 1999, regulations called for all chiefs of police to have a law degree. This requirement was dropped to allow for broader hiring practices and in an effort to expand the expertise within the police. Roughly 40 percent of 200 police chiefs surveyed in 2013 had a law degree.
In 1908, the first group of women were employed by the police in Stockholm. They worked mainly with women and children, and were often experienced nurses serving as jail guards. Some were tasked with surveillance of public places, arresting women and children caught stealing. In the subsequent fifty years more women were employed, but remained few overall. It wasn't until 1957 that the possibility to become a Police Constable on patrol duty opened up for women, with the first uniformed police women patrolling the streets of Täby and Vaxholm. In the following year, women started to patrol the streets of Stockholm in a pilot project. The project caused a lot of debate, with some resistance within the police union, and recruitment slowed down in the '60s. In 1968, the National Police Board decided that all women should be placed in investigation units or on other duties excluding them from patrols and recruitment picked up speed again. This arrangement remained in place until 1971, when a formal decision was made that all men and women should serve on equal terms.
Other notable events for women:
- 1981 – First woman police chief, Karin Värmefjord, was appointed Police Commissioner of Ludvika
- 1990 – First woman forensic police officer
- 1994 – First woman county police chief, Ann-Charlotte Norrås, was appointed Chief Commissioner of Gothenburg County Police
- 1994 – First woman to serve at a tactical unit
- 2005 – First woman to serve as a helicopter pilot
In 2011, women accounted for 40 per cent of all employees and 28 per cent of all officers, with 24 per cent women in management. Today, physical requirements are the same for men and women in cardiovascular fitness, but different in terms of body strength. The minimum requirement is equivalent to average level muscle strength and fitness in men and women.
Swedish procurement legislation, largely based on EU Directives, prohibit discrimination on the basis of nationality. All goods and services supplied to the Swedish police must be procured on the open market. Accordingly, the Swedish Police Authority has signed framework agreements with six suppliers of police cars, made from a number of brands, including BMW and Mercedes-Benz. Yet in 2013, approximately 85 per cent of all cars delivered was a Volvo. Police officers especially favoured the Volvo XC70 because of its handling, durability and high ground clearance, providing for easier ingress and egress. Other common vehicles are the Volkswagen Passat and Volkswagen Transporter. The Swedish police also has a number of specialty vehicles, like armoured vehicles for Piketen, and public order vans. The traffic police share approximately 150 police motorcycles.
The standard equipment for Swedish police officers includes a handgun, which officers are required to carry whenever they are on duty in areas where the public has access, beside when they are on patrol or guard duty. The current service pistol is a SIG Sauer of various models chambered for the 9×19mm Parabellum (e.g. the P225, P226 and P228). Speer Gold Dot hollow point bullets have been the standard issue since 2003. In 2012, new regulations were introduced, which allowed officers to carry with a round in the chamber, to reduce the risk of operator error and accidental firearms discharge in a dangerous situation. Police officers also routinely carry expandable batons and pepper spray. Officers may also, in addition, be assigned the Heckler & Koch MP5 submachine gun under special circumstances or in a particularly dangerous situation. The Swedish police are also allowed, yet rarely use, tear gas against individuals or in crowd control situations. The National Task Force and Piketen also have the Heckler & Koch G36 assault rifle, shotguns and stun grenades in their armoury. The National Task Force is the only unit within the Swedish police allowed to use sniper rifles. In 2013, members of the task force were pictured with a Sako TRG M10 rifle, on a rooftop overlooking the arrival of U.S. President Barack Obama to the Stockholm airport.
The Swedish police uses a TETRA-based radio communications system, named RAKEL, managed by the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency. It's also used by other law enforcement agencies and organizations with a responsibility for public safety, replacing more than 200 analogue systems. The system covers 99.84% of Sweden's population and 95% of the territory, and became the standard radio system for the police in 2011.
Uniform and rank structure
The everyday working uniform consists of combat style trousers in a dark-blue fabric with a dark-blue polo shirt or a long sleeve button shirt and black boots. The long sleeved shirt is worn without tie, with the sleeves rolled up in warm weather. The trousers are based on a model that was first introduced in 1992, which in turn was inspired by the Swedish Armed Forces' M90 field uniform. Included in the uniform is a police duty belt consisting of a handgun holster, a helmet fastener, and several pouches for the handcuffs, spare magazines, the pepper spray canister and baton. The headgear is usually a dark-blue side cap, known as båtmössa ("boat cap"), embellished with yellow-gold piping and a metal cap badge. There are a number of jackets designed for different tasks and weather situations, most of them in dark-blue. According to the regulations, officers should typically wear hi-visibility vests, unless it is detrimental to the task at hand. Officers may also wear a light-blue long sleeve dress shirt with a dark-blue tie, usually paired with a dark-blue or white peaked cap, and sometimes worn with dark-blue suit jackets and trousers. There is also a light-blue short sleeve dress shirt that may be worn open-necked. White dress shirts are primarily reserved for more formal occasions.
Starting 2015, the Swedish police will begin to reorganize, a project which is expected to continue for several years. The Swedish police will implement a new hierarchical structure composed of six major levels, with the National Police Commissioner at the top; followed by a Regional Police Chief or Head of Department (with the rank of Police Director), a District Police Chief or Head of Division (Police Commissioner), a Local Police Chief or Head of Section (Superintendent), and a Head of Group (Inspector) along with the rest of the personnel at the bottom of the pyramid.
Swedish police in fiction:
- The Bridge – a Scandinavian crime drama about a Danish and Swedish police duo
- Johan Falk – a fictional Swedish police officer, based on the reported actions of the Special Operations Unit
- Kurt Wallander – a fictional Swedish police detective, created by crime writer Henning Mankell
- Martin Beck – a fictional Swedish police detective, created by crime writers Sjöwall and Wahlöö
- See also the article on Ministerstyre and the official translation of the constitution at the Riksdag website: 1974 Instrument of Government, Chapter 12, Art. 2
- Based on an organizational chart published by the Swedish Police Authority in 2015
- See also the official translation at the Government of Sweden website of the Swedish Penal Code (1 May 1999), Chapter 20, Section 1
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