Police lack time for ‘normal’ crime

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Norwegian police, especially in Oslo, are so tied up by the aftermath of the July 22 terrorist attacks that they have even less time to respond to more everyday crime, reports newspaper Aftenposten. It claims that around 700 thefts, robberies, break-ins, drug deals and episodes of violence have landed on an already long list of unsolved crimes.

Police are so preoccupied with the scope of the terrorist attacks that it's having consequences on other crimes. PHOTO: Justisdepartementet

Complaints over a lack of police response to non-life-threatening crimes existed before the attacks as well. Since a right-wing Christian terrorist killed 77 persons in two attacks on July 22, though, the situation has worsened, according to figures and victims’ accounts in Aftenposten’s report over the weekend.

Photographer Sebastian Diaz, for example, spotted a thief stealing his camera equipment while he was on a job in Oslo. Diaz chased the thief and even nabbed him, but when he finally got through on the phone to police, he failed to convince them to come and pick up the thief.

After the terrorist attacks, such calls have a low priority and Diaz had to watch the thief walk off. “I think it’s right that the police put a priority on the terrorist attacks and serious crime like assaults and drugs,” Diaz told Aftenposten. “But I don’t understand how everything else can be ignored.”

Even though most all politicians claimed during the recent election campaign that one of their most important duties was to restore feelings of security, crime statistics paint a different picture. The police were under pressure before July 22. Now they’ve felt compelled to set aside a large number of cases.

Fully 12,200 criminal cases have gone unsolved for longer than one year in Oslo. The list grew by 700 in the four weeks after the terrorist attacks. Fewer police are assigned to street patrols.

“It’s clear that we can’t manage to take care of all the cases,” Oslo Police Chief Anstein Gjengedal told Aftenposten. “When we have so much concentration on July 22nd, it affects everything else. It’s had consequences.” Rank and file police officers paint an even worse picture but have been told only Gjengedal should address the issue publicly.

“Criminals can simply go free,” André Oktay Dahl of the opposition Conservative Party told Aftenposten. “The result is that fewer people will bother to report crimes. They won’t feel it’s worth the effort.”

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund
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