As a wave of street robberies sweeps over Oslo, Norway’s new justice minister wants to help the police keep the robbers in custody. Many of them are underaged, but Justice Minister Anders Anundsen wants to “get them out of circulation.”
There’s been a sudden jump in robberies in Oslo, with police reporting that they’re occurring at all hours of the day and night. Some of them may be considered petty crime, with victims robbed of their mobile telephones or wallets after being accosted by underaged criminals. Others have involved violence that leaves victims injured or badly frightened.
Newspaper Aftenposten reported over the weekend that more than 30 people, most of the women, have been accosted and robbed of their so-called “smart phones” over the past two weeks. The robbers have struck all over town, normally in pairs or groups of three, and most of them are young men or teenagers.
Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) reported that a 10-year-old boy waiting for a bus at Oslo’s busy public transit hub at Helsfyr was confronted at around 9:45am on Sunday by two young men who grabbed his mobile phone and then hit him. That prompted two other men, who witnessed the robbery, to attack the robbers.
Found ‘teeth lying on the ground’
One got away but the other was badly beaten and was lying on the street when police arrived. “There were teeth lying on the ground also,” Martin Todnem, operations leader in the Oslo Police District, told NRK. The injured robber was taken to hospital, the badly shaken 10-year-old was driven home and the two men who intervened ended up being cited for inflicting bodily injury. “It can be honourable to intervene,” Todnem told NRK, “but in this case, their use of violence was too much.”
Justice Minister Anundsen and the state police that he’s now in charge of are frustrated by laws that make it difficult for police to keep juvenile offenders in custody, but Anundsen told newspaper Aftenposten on Sunday that he supports new punishments for juvenile offenders.
“The goal is to put these young offenders out of circulation,” Anundsen said. Those aged 15-18 years will face new punishment in the form of what Anundsen calls “strict social control” that will force them, among other things, to meet their victims face to face, as long as the victims are willing.
The idea is for the offenders to face the consequences of their actions, and they also will be subject to strict supervision for up to three years. The offenders can face restraining orders and be forced to meet the equivalent of probation officers over a certain period.
Anundsen of the conservative Progress Party stressed that “these are punitive measures, not just some form of social welfare program.” He told Aftenposten on Sunday that the measures “are another way to inflict punishment.” The goal, though, is to help (the juvenile offenders) “get a normal life, with family, school and work.”