The development of the Swedish model of Crime Prevention in the last two decades and its future challenges

Dr. Erik Wennerström
Swedish Council for Crime Prevention

The Swedish Government's 1996 national crime prevention program "Our collective responsibility" emphasizes that crime must be dealt with in the local community, using a broad approach and involving the public and different local actors in collaboration. Local authorities are largely autonomous and the Government guides local action by methodological and financial support from the National Crime Prevention Council (Brå). The program called for the formation of Local Crime Prevention Councils. Since 1996 the number of councils has steadily grown. Councils have become more active and focus on a wider range of issues, e.g. alcohol/drug prevention, public safety and security, and a focus on youth offenders. They are also increasingly knowledge-based and use a variety of methods. Since the 1990s, prevention has developed from local special projects to become a central goal for all police as part of the problem-oriented approach. Currently police follow an intelligence-based model, and a new workable definition of what "crime prevention" is, in police context, is being evaluated for further implementation. Since 2008, all regional police authorities are required to sign a Cooperation Agreement with local authorities. The purpose is to create structures for cooperation, despite somewhat different goals and organizational types. Brå strategically plans its financial support to fund evaluations of local crime prevention projects to achieve a more knowledge-based approach. Increased inter-authority cooperation is key to success and local actors stress the need for higher-level support. A future challenge is to focus on problems where the goals of different authorities may diverge, for example recidivism and organized crime.

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