For a number of years now, Sweden has seen a trend in gang crime, which is affecting people and our society in various ways. Reversing this trend is a task that requires the joint efforts of society. The City of Stockholm is engaging all the resources the City has in this work. The aim is to reverse the escalating trend and for actors in society to ensure, in a continued, sustainable manner, that young people do not become involved in gang crime, and that those who control and direct the criminal environments are prosecuted.
Social services have an important role to play in preventing children and young people from committing crimes. This is known as social crime prevention, and it aims to prevent individuals from either starting to commit crimes at a young age or from relapsing into fresh crime after having served their sentence.
Children and young people who break norms, rules or laws need to be identified and supported as early as possible, so that the trend can be broken before major problems develop. Collaboration with the police, civil society and other actors is also important in achieving results.
The City’s youth workers work locally in city district areas with preventive, outreach and relationship-building work with children and young people. One important element of this work is collaboration with other actors in the local community.
School also forms an important part of preventive work. So-called school social teams work in selected municipal compulsory schools, to help pupils who have started to have problems with absenteeism.
In all local police districts in the City of Stockholm, there are social workers who share premises with the police. They collaborate around children and young people who are at risk of being drawn into crime or who are already involved.
Leaving a criminal lifestyle
The road to leaving a criminal environment can be a long one, and individuals who want to change their lifestyle may need support from social services for a long time, so-called defector programmes.
When a person wants to leave a criminal lifestyle and group, the police conduct a threat assessment and social services investigate what kind of support the individual needs. The defector is then offered support measures, either from the central defector programme or from the local social action groups (SIG).
Trefas - collaboration between the City, the Swedish Police and the Swedish Prison and Probation Service
For people who are at risk of being subjected to lethal violence or of perpetrating lethal violence themselves, quick decisions and close collaboration between actors in society are crucial.
Since 2019, the City, the Swedish Police and the Swedish Prison and Probation Service have been collaborating in a working method known as Trefas (Three Phase). This involves jointly identifying and continuously monitoring individuals who are at risk, so that prompt measures can be taken with individuals, partly to deal with the urgent situation and partly to provide the individual with support and tools to escape from the criminal environment.
When there is a shooting, explosion or any other incident involving serious violence, there can be many people who have been affected by the violence or witnessed the event. Many people who live in an area where something has happened may also experience high levels of anxiety and insecurity.
The city district departments and the Social Services Department have well-developed working methods that enable them to quickly provide psychological and social support to those who need it, in collaboration with the police and the healthcare service. The City’s crisis support staff, youth workers, recreation leaders and school staff work together with associations and faith communities to meet people of all ages who need support or to talk about what has happened, both during the serious situation and in the time that follows.
Preventive work in many areas
The City has operations working preventively in various ways to ensure that people have the best conditions in life and do not chose paths that lead to crime.
Pre-school, school and upper secondary school
Pre-schools, schools and upper secondary schools are crucially important for children and young people. Leaving compulsory and upper secondary school with passing grades is an important precondition for the continued development of young people and their opportunities in life.
Another example is that children and young people are offered safe, active leisure time through recreation centres, schools of culture and sporting activities.
Mentors in Violence Prevention
Mentors in Violence Prevention (MVP) is a working method in use at 40 or so municipal schools in the City for year groups 4–9. This method aims to prevent violence among boys and men, and is based on increasing knowledge about violence and gender issues to enhance children’s opportunities to assume responsibility for each other and talk to the adult world if they see or hear violence or abuse.
Youth counselling centres
Another example is the City’s eight youth counselling centres, which are aimed at young people aged 12–22. Anyone who wants to can come here to meet a counsellor and discuss issues about life, how they are feeling, if they are stressed, anxious or feeling low.
The City also undertakes preventive work aimed at parents. Parents’ groups are intended for parents with children up to the age of 18. They enable people to talk about how they, as a parent, can
- enhance the child’s self-esteem
- enhance relationships inside and outside the family
- deal with difficult situations.
For adults, the City’s work with labour market initiatives is one example of preventive work for good living conditions. Adult education, work-oriented placements and occupational training are examples of activities run by the City in this area.
Safe outdoor environments
The City’s departments and companies work preventively with different kinds of initiatives to create security, aimed at increasing the perceived level of safety in areas. These can involve lighting, vegetation or enhanced cleaning measures to create an attractive and accessible public environment on streets, in squares and in parks.
Security guards who work on behalf of the City are other examples of initiatives to create security. Their task is to create security through visibility and presence in public environments, and to prevent crime and disorder through collaboration with the police.
CCTV surveillance in connection with places and buildings owned by the City is another example.