Personal and domestic security politics in the Swedish election debate got some new fuel for the fire in the last days after a few Conservative Party’s suggestions, suggestions where you get a little piece of security if you pay up a few rights and freedoms. Bad or bargain? Well, the proposals are pretty horrifying.
The crime statistics in Sweden is looking like the stock market should look, the police force is shrinking because so many officers are quitting their jobs and never get replaced with fresh blood. Data suggests that citizens are more scared than they ever have been. Dan Eliasson, the National Police Commissioner, stepped down from his position after heavy critique of how he has handled his job.
The public is pissed off and scared and the right-wing parties in Sweden have put forth populistic solutions to appear the most concerned about this trend. The Conservative party came out with a proposal that I think is the knock-out, to make more extreme measures toward a police state will be almost impossible (we have a few more levels to go down, but still) and they are as follows:
1. Allow the police to set up “Frisking Zones”.
In one of the Conservative party’s most controversial suggestions, the police should be allowed to set up a geographical perimeter where they are allowed to stop and search everyone, no matter if they are suspects of a crime or not. Essentially stripping you of your right to your self. The proposal is said to be restricted to illegal gun searches and decisions to set it up needs to be okayed by the state prosecutor, but it is easy to see how bad this is for the average, law-abiding citizen. Yes, this is a more soft approach but it can be turned into a more harsher version very fast: If you allow this inch, the next one is going to be searches of homes within a police-set perimeter – Have we crossed a line then, or can we continue further into totalitarianism unopposed?
2. Ease up on the restrictions for the police to do secret surveillance work.
This is a suggestion from last year that the Conservative party has recycled. Right now the punishment for the crime has to be at least 2 years worth of prison time, in order for the police to get secret surveillance work greenlighted. The Conservatives want to set the threshold at 1 year instead and thus opening up for a lot more hidden surveillance work. In combination with a proposal from the seated administration to ease up on general police camera monitoring in the public space will create a reality where the private citizen is increasingly under “supervision”.
3. Set up a pool of money to be used for compensating people that tipped the police of criminal activity.
This suggestion sounds the least insane and it looks fantastic on paper – Some monetary compensation for putting yourself in danger by helping the police is the very least the state can provide. I just don’t trust the government with implementing a system that is free from misuse, especially not with the track record of handling public funds. I’m sure it can be done, I’m just naturally skeptic that the right people get to construct the framework and that the safeguards hold all the way down to the local police station.
I am hoping that more people see through the promises of a quick fix to complicated societal problems, made by vote-hungry political parties. I hope we get to keep some freedoms after the election in September.
- Swedish Police force is shrinking (Swedish State Television, Swedish)
- “Center for Crime Statistics reports: Safeness Dropping” (Swedish State Television, Swedish)
- “National Police Commissioner Stepping Down” (Aftonbladet, Swedish)
- “Conservatives: Implement Frisking Zones to find weapons” (Aftonbladet, Swedish)
- “We want to see more arrests” – On Camera Surveillance (Aftonbladet, Swedish)
- “More Pat-downs, more police dogs, and money to people tipping the police off” (Expressen, Swedish)