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EACEA National Policies Platform


4. Social Inclusion

4.8 Current debates and reforms

Last update: 28 November 2023

New measures against honour-based violence and organised crime

There have been several developments in criminal policy during the last years. Two policy topics are particularly concerning young people. The first is honour-based violence, where several investigations have been initiated and new laws proposed. 

The other topic is organised crime and shootings. Over the past decade, shootings connected to organised crime and drug dealing where both perpetrators and victims are boys and young men have become more common. There are several ongoing inquiries into new laws in parallel with new laws being implemented.

A new law requires municipalities to actively work with crime prevention (SFS 2023:196). In the preparative work, universal prevention towards children and youth is regarded as part in the new responsibility. Working towards social inclusion can be regarded as such prevention (SOU 2021:49). 

There is a current debate on increased penalty for young people under 18 years of age, both to protect young people from being used in organised crime and to protect the surrounding environment from young people who commit serious violent crimes. This has implications both on the rights of children who have committed crimes or are at risk of being used by criminal networks, as well as for children who are placed in special residential homes for young people. Currently, minors who have committed crimes are placed in special residential homes for young people, which also are used for young people who have been placed in the care of the state for other reasons.  

The government has proposed increased penalty for several crimes, such as possession of illegal firearms and explosives (Ds 2023:11), threats, coercion, drug crimes, violent confrontations in criminal networks. The government has also proposed a new law penalising involving minors in criminal activities (Dir. 2020:62).

There is also a current debate on whether special youth prisons for 15 to 17-year-olds should be introduced to decrease young people’s involvement in violent crime as well as solving the current issues at the special residential homes for young people.  

Challenges in social services and health care

A partly related issue is currently debated regards social services, foster care and special residential homes for young people. Young people can be placed in the care of the state or foster care for several reasons, such as addiction, mental health or social issues or criminality. A recent investigation by the Agency for Public Management found several deficiencies at these residential homes. The investigation found reports of sexual abuse at almost all residential homes for girls and disproportionate use of confinement and restrictive measures. The agency concluded that lack of trained personnel contributed to the deficiencies (Statskontoret, 2023). An increased need for social services, foster care and special residential homes is also debated to curb the recruitment of minors into organised crime. The government has therefore increased the budget for foster care, special residential homes for young people and evaluations during 2023 by 12 million SEK (about 1 million euro) (Ministry of Health and Social Affairs, 2023).


Assignment on social initiatives in socially vulnerable areas

In December 2020, The Government instructed the National Board of Health and Welfare (Socialstyrelsen) to distribute funds for social initiatives for children and young people in socially vulnerable areas. The funds are intended to go to initiatives that aim to reduce the risk of children and young people being drawn into or otherwise affected by crime. These may be initiatives that complement and strengthen activities that the municipalities already carry out within the framework of crime prevention (eg investing in more field workers in the evenings and weekends, including increased accessibility in social services' activities), as well as various forms of structured collaboration between school, social services and the police. In total, the investment amounts to SEK 250 000 000 ( about 25 000 000 euro) for 2021 and the government estimates SEK 250 000 000 annually for 2022–2023.

The effort is part of the government's broader work to reduce and counteract socio-economic segregation. The conditions for children and young people to grow up in areas with socio-economic challenges must therefore be improved, such as the right of children and young people to grow up in a safe and stable environment. In order to achieve a positive development in vulnerable areas, measures need to be taken to develop and structure collaboration between actors in the local community, such as social services, the police and schools. Other relevant actors are, for example, civil society, health care and municipal housing companies. Parents and other close relatives are also important to include in the collaboration. Part of the stimulus funds is therefore intended to promote a structured collaboration between social services, schools and the police at the individual level around children and young people who have ended up in or are at risk of ending up in a criminal lifestyle. Social intervention groups are one such form of local collaboration, as are school-social services-police-leisure and school social teams.