Safer streets tied to more patrols

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A big increase in visible street patrols by police, security guards and volunteers was being credited Monday for a weekend in Oslo with no reports of rapes and little serious violence. Some street brawls among rowdy football fans accounted for the only real trouble late Saturday night.

“We did have our hands full with disturbances by the so-called ‘casuals,’ true enough, but not much else,” Heidi Grundstad of the Oslo Police District told news bureau NTB. The football brawls came in advance of Sunday’s Norwegian cup final at Ullevaal Stadium in Oslo, where Aalesund’s Football Club beat Brann of Bergen by a score of 2-1.

‘Natteravner’ on the job
Police otherwise reported only one street robbery, a few drug deals and a few cases of minor violence during the weekend, despite thousands of visitors in town for the big football match.

All the extra presence of uniformed police, guards and volunteers for the Natteravner civilian patrols was believed to have contributed to the decline in street violence in Oslo. Anxiety over a wave of sexual assaults and robberies in recent months had mobilized hundred of persons of all ages to take part and “take back” the streets.

Around 120 new volunteers walked for hours on city streets both Friday and Saturday nights. There’s also been a concerted effort by city officials to improve street lighting, while even parking patrols made their presence known in an effort to prevent attacks.

‘The city is ours’
“Folks have shown that the city is ours both daytime and nighttime,” Oslo Mayor Fabian Stang told newspaper Aftenposten. “Some of us had been asking for more police patrols for several years. I’m very glad that we’re finally being taken seriously, even though that should have happened before the many attacks this year.”

Few seem to lulled into any sense of complacency, however. Sveinung Sponheim of the Oslo Police District stressed the need for extra patrols at least through the holiday party season and that’s the plan.

“For the long term, we need some changes in attitude,” Sponheim told Aftenposten. “Friends need to take better care of each other, intoxicated persons shouldn’t be left alone. They’re the most at risk.”

Police are continuing to investigate all recent assaults and hope to make arrests. Stang noted that the most important thing is to stop the assailants.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund

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