Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Polaris of Enlightenment

Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Polaris of Enlightenment

Sweden’s prisons on the brink: Inmates “taking over the wards”

Deteriorating safety

Published 6 February 2024
- By Editorial Staff
The situation in the country's prisons is becoming increasingly critical.

Sweden’s prisons are reaching the breaking point as threats and violence within their walls escalate. The union is now warning that the shortage of staff could soon lead to a disaster, according to Christer Hallqvist, head of Swedish trade union Seko’s Prison and Probation Department.

– We are losing control. The inmates are more or less taking over the wards.

The situation in the Swedish Prison and Probation Service (Kriminalvården) appears to have reached a critical point, with overcrowded remand prisons and facilities facing increasing threats and violence. A recent video posted on Swedish state television SVT’s website shows a brutal attack on an inmate in the high-security Tidaholm prison, illustrating the growing problem.

With over 3,600 reported cases of threats and violence last year alone, an increase from the previous year, the union warns that the situation is unsustainable.

According to union leader Christer Hallqvist, it has gone so far that inmates in some facilities have “taken over” wards.

– We have crossed the line. The politicians need to calm down with their decisions so that we can catch up.

Lack of space and staff

A contributing factor to the escalating spiral of violence is the increasing lack of space, which forces staff to withdraw instead of being close to the inmates. Christer Hallqvist believes that the situation has reached a point where some institutions have lost control and that politicians need to act urgently to avoid a catastrophe.

– The staff is withdrawing instead of being close to the inmates, and there is no time to prevent incidents. It will end in disaster.

Minister of Justice Gunnar Strömmer also recognizes the tense situation and promises measures to improve the situation of the Prison and Probation Service in the long term.

– This is the result of a serious development in crime over many years and the fact that the expansion of the Prison and Probation Service began far too late. We are now taking all the measures we can to achieve a long-term expansion and, in the short term, to give the Prison and Probation Service the conditions to cope with the pressure it is experiencing here and now, says Gunnar Strömmer, commenting on the alarm from the Prison and Probation Service.

The statistics come from the Swedish Prison and Probation Service's own incident reporting system.

According to the authority, the willingness to report incidents has gradually increased over the years.

Source: Swedish Prison and Probation Service


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