Denmark: Lawlessness in the ghettos

Denmark: Lawlessness in the ghettos

Young troublemakers harass both the police and the residents in Ishøj, and the police is too soft on them, says the residents' representative.

The police and other authorities act too soft when they engage with young troublemakers in Danish ghettos, says Käthe Skjoldborg Pedersen, who represents over 4,500 residents in Vejleåparken in Ishøj, south of Copenhagen.

She says that several times the local police in Ishøj got their tires cut up this year, in seven cases their windows were broken and two cars were set aflame.  The local police station got its windows smashed four times.

"I don't understand how the police just looks at the hacked tires and say that they now have to get four new tires," says Käthe Skjoldborg Pedersen.

There were instances when the youth burned a moped, waited for the police to come and then threw stones at the emergency services.

If a police car comes alone, the agents wait for reinforcements before they enter.  The result is that often the guilty parties escape, or the citizens don't get the emergency help they need.

Vice Police Commissioner for the Copenhagen West Police, Ulrik Hove, denies that the police doesn't go into Vejleåparken, but he admits that police must exercise special care in the area.

The same happens in other Danish cities.

Frank Reuter, hed of the local police in Nørrebro in Copenhagen says that they face great challenges going into certain areas.  They do go in, but they know in advance that if they just drive in, many people would gather very quickly and turn against the police.  So they must be very careful how they act, in comparison to other cities.

In Gellerup in Aarhus, the police also has problems performing their normal duties.  On August 10th, youth threw stones and bottles at the police in Vollsmose in Odense.

"It's a recurring problem for the police, that we're exposed to stone-throwing and so forth when we work here," says Per Franch, head of the local police in Vollsmose.

Political response

Liberal Party (Kim Andersen): It's a shameful situation, and it is terrible that things have gotten so bad in some housing estates in Denmark.  The party can't promise money, but is responsive to whatever measures or legislation that the police needs.  The police should come out in force when there are problems in the ghettos.  It should be clear that we are the ones who decide things.

Danish People's Party (Peter Skaarup): The police should be out in force, and there should be more funding for that.  Police upholding law and order are crucial for rule of law, otherwise the law of the jungle prevails.  The police car is a symbol for the police and it should be protected.  The Copenhagen West Police today sends two police cars when responding to certain housing estates, and that could be done in other places as well.

Socialist People's Party (Karina Lorentzen): The party condemns the attacks on the police and the thugs should be dealt with harshly.  But since they're not caught very often, other solutions should be examined.  She suggests 'trust officers' in the afflicted areas, people from the area who are looked up to and can serve as a bridge between the residents and the police.  The party also suggests firemen cadets: local youth who are paid to help the fire brigade.  She also suggests a 'dialog officer', per the Norwegian model, police agents who go into the neighborhood and speak with the youth before there are problems.

Social Democrats (Karen Hækkerup): We can't accept having people who don't follow the Danish criminal code, but instead follow unwritten laws and customs.  They suggest a witness protection program for the most threatened witnesses.  The residents should feel safe going to the police and testifying.  She calls for more offices to those areas, as promised by the police reform, and to confront ghetto culture, which is the cause for the attacks on the police.  The problems in the ghettos have become worse in the past decade when Denmark had a right-wing government.

Source: Jyllands-Posten 1, 2 (Danish)

See also: Copenhagen: Incitement against the police