Shortcomings in police management of volume crime
Police handling of volume crime is inefficient. The shortcomings are in part due to the fact that the police have not succeeded in staffing the local police districts to a sufficient extent, do not carry out essential skills development and set limits for the number of civilian employees that are too strict.
The term ‘volume crime’ refers to commonly occurring crimes, where the Police Authority leads a preliminary investigation; examples include drink-driving, assault and burglary. Volume crime accounts for more than 80 per cent of all reported crime and, in the vast majority of cases, should be investigated at the local police district level.
The clearance rate of some of the most common volume crimes is low and has dropped further in recent years. Despite major increases in appropriations, more employees, and a comprehensive reorganisation, the outcome has declined in terms of solving crime. The Swedish National Audit Office (Swedish NAO) has therefore audited police management of volume crime.
The audit shows that there are deficiencies in effectiveness of the management process. The deficiencies are mainly due to the fact that the Police Authority has failed to sufficiently staff the local police districts, where volume crime is to be investigated.
This is aggravated by the fact that staff often need to take over investigations concerning serious crime, such as murder and domestic violence, from other levels within the police organisation, or are commanded to assist in such investigations. This also has a negative impact on the investigations of serious crime, since the local police districts do not always have sufficient competence.
The Swedish NAO also notes that the Police Authority does not carry out essential skills development to increase its capacity to investigate volume crime – which, over time, have become increasingly complex to investigate. In addition, the authority has chosen to limit the supply of civilian staff, who are important in investigations, as well as in forensics and administration.
As a result, volume crime that could be investigated risks being dismissed directly or remain unsolved for so long that ultimately, they are not possible to investigate because the evidence has been weakened.
“The Police Authority does not manage volume crime efficiently. Other tasks crowd out volume crime, often linked to organised crime,” says Per Dackenberg, project leader for the audit.
The audit also covers the Government’s efforts in this area. The Swedish NAO assesses that the Government has taken several valuable measures, but that it should have been more active in combating volume crime.
“Volume crime exacts a heavy toll on individual citizens and the rest of society. Police efforts need to be more effective. Ultimately, it is a matter of citizens’ trust in police and in the judicial system,” says Auditor General Helena Lindberg.
It is recommended that the Police Authority do the following:
- Make sure that the organisation’s needs and access to competence govern how many police officers and civilian staff are hired.
- Make sure to fully staff the Police Authority’s contact centre and secure essential skills and crime coordination capacity so that all adequate investigation and coordination measures can take place at the contact centre.
- Increase collaboration between the Police Authority’s contact centre and the on-duty police investigation officer and ascertain that case coordination and the preliminary investigation limitation occurs as early as possible in the process.
- Review how the system of e-reports works, with the aim of raising quality and reducing extra work that arises as a result of the need for corrections and additions.
- Develop and strengthen coordination on crime at all levels and ensure that IT support is available to facilitate this, for example by enabling local situation images in real time based on received police reports.
- Review how further training can be better designed and adapted to the needs of the organisation to build a good capacity to handle all volume crime.
Press contact: Olle Castelius, phone: +46 8-5171 40 04.
Presskontakt: Olle Castelius , telefon: 08-5171 42 06.
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