Security Service head named new Swedish police chief

The head of Sweden's Security Service Säpo will leave his role to become the new chief of the Swedish police.

Security Service head named new Swedish police chief
Anders Thornberg (right) and Sweden's justice minister Morgan Johansson. Photo: Claudio Bresciani/TT

On Thursday Justice Minister Morgan Johansson announced that Anders Thornberg will replace Dan Eliasson from February 15th, after the latter resigned to lead disaster preparedness agency MSB.

Eliasson had faced regular criticism since he was appointed as head of police in 2014.

READ ALSO: Swedish police chief Dan Eliasson resigns

The Swedish police have been under increased pressure in recent years as stretched resources and limited officer numbers make their work increasingly difficult, but Thornberg said he is ready for the challenge.

“I've been a police for 37 years and defended Swedish integrity. I'm humble about the task and know it's a challenge,” he told the media at a press conference called to make the announcement.

Briefly outlining his vision for the organization, Thornberg said he wanted the police to do more preventative work:

“I see a police which moves its position against crime through increased cooperation, nationally and internationally.”

The announcement was welcomed by unions and officers.

“Anders Thornberg has extensive knowledge of police work and can motivate and engage employees. He’s the unifying force the Swedish police needs,” Swedish Police Union chairwoman Lena Nitz said in a statement.

“He's a police at heart, has been out in the field and knows what the police face every day. I think it’s an important pillar for being able to take the right decisions and being able to motive and engage the police force.”

READ ALSO: Working on the front line in Stockholm's vulnerable suburbs

“Anders Thornberg. Welcome. There's work to do, but it feels confidence building and hopeful. From difficulties to success. Also found out that he's an old Södermalm cop. The pieces are falling in place,” the YB Södermalm account, run by officers in the south of Stockholm wrote on Twitter.

Thornberg took over as head of Säpo in 2012, and had worked at the organization since 1986. Before then he was a patrol officer in Södermalm after training in Stockholm.


Sweden breaks yearly record for fatal shootings

A man was shot to death in Kristianstad, Skåne, late on Thursday night. He is the 48th person to be shot dead in Sweden this year, meaning that the previous record for most fatal shootings in one year set in 2020 has now been broken.

Sweden breaks yearly record for fatal shootings

“Unfortunately we can’t say more than that he’s in his twenties and we have no current suspects,” duty officer Mikael Lind told TT newswire.

According to police statistics, this most recent deadly shooting means that 48 people have been shot to death in 2022, meaning that Sweden has broken a new record for deadly shootings per year.

Earlier this week, Sweden’s police chief Anders Thornberg said that this number is likely to rise even higher before the end of the year.

“It looks like we’re going to break the record this year,” he told TT on Tuesday. “That means – if it continues at the same pace – around 60 deadly shootings.”

“If it ends up being such a large increase that would be very unusual,” said Manne Gerell, criminiologist at Malmö University.

“We saw a large increase between 2017 and 2018, and we could see the same now, as we’re on such low figures in Sweden. But it’s still worrying that it’s increasing by so much over such a short time period,” he said.

There also seems to be an upwards trend in the number of shootings overall during 2022. 273 shootings had occured by September 1st this year, compared with 344 for the whole of 2021 and 379 for the whole of 2020.

If shootings continue at this rate for the rest of 2022, it is likely that the total number for the year would be higher than 2021 and 2020. There are, however, fewer injuries.

“The majority of shootings cause no injuries, but this year, mortality has increased substantially,” Gerell explained. “There aren’t more people being shot, but when someone is shot, they’re more likely to die.”

Thursday’s shooting took place in Kristianstad, but it’s only partially true that deadly gun violence is becoming more common in smaller cities.

“It’s moved out somewhat to smaller cities, but we’re overexaggerating that effect,” Gerell said. “We’re forgetting that there have been shootings in other small cities in previous years.”

A report from the Crime Prevention Council (Brå) presented last spring showed that Sweden, when compared with 22 different countries in Europe, was the only one with an upwards trend for deadly shootings.

Temporary increases can be seen during some years in a few countries, but there were no countries which showed such a clear increase as Sweden has seen for multiple years in a row, according to Brå.

The Swedish upwards trend for deadly gun violence began in the beginning of the 2000s, but the trend took off in 2013 and has continued to increase since.

Eight of ten deadly shootings take place in criminal environments, the study showed. The Swedish increase has taken place in principle only among the 20-29 year old age group.

When police chief Anders Thornberg was asked how the trend can be broken, he said that new recruitments are one of the most important factors.

“The most important thing is to break recruitment, make sure we can listen encrypted and that we can get to the profits of crime in a better way,” he said.