The Swedish police force is operating under capacity with union representatives concerned that their numbers are too low to properly prevent or investigate crime.
Lena Nitz, President of the Swedish Police Union Polisförbundet, said the force was 4,200 police officers short at the EuroCOP Spring meeting in Gibraltar.
Lena said: “We have a lack of police officers and we have had that for a couple of years now. We are too few to fulfil our task of preventing crime and investigating crime, and that’s why the government has decided that we will be 26,000 police officers by 2024.
“Today we have 21,800 police officers. The challenge in that is to attract enough people who meet the requirements to apply for police training. To do that and be attractive, wages must be raised and conditions improved. So that’s the challenge.”
Morale has been damaged by understaffing, and officers are finding life difficult, Lena, who is also President of the Nordic Police Union, added. Lena is stepping down from both roles this year, but will continue working in policing.
She said: “Officers are tired because [of understaffing]. They are really struggling hard, but they’re proud, they’re doing a fantastic job. They will never stop working to prevent crime.
“We have problems in Sweden with organised crime and gang shootings, and violence against police officers. To have EuroCop backing you up when you’re working to have the safety rules and the legislations changed to make us safer, that is really important. The work that EuroCop is doing is very important for us in Sweden but we can contribute to other countries.”
Lena has been President of the Union since 2010. Before Lena became union president, she worked in the section for employer issues at the Police Authority in Stockholm County. She has also worked as an ombudsman for the Swedish Police Confederation, local police, criminal investigators and gender equality officers.