Sweden's Current Justice System Overview Term Paper

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In 1993 there were 155,704 recorded crimes of burglary and of these 20,200 were residential burglaries. Since the mid-1970s the level of recorded burglaries has fluctuated around a level of 130,000 to 150,000 crimes per year although during the three last years, 1991 to 1993, the level has been close to 155,000. The number of recorded car thefts in 1993 was 61,141 and of these 18,300 were attempts. During the 1980s the number of recorded thefts of cars has doubled from 34,301 in 1980 to 69,003 in 1989. However, in the last three years this crime has decreased from roughly 70,000 in 1991 to roughly 61,000 in 1993.

Drug offenses. In 1993, 40,700 violations of the Narcotic Drugs Act were reported to the police. This figure is 40% higher than in 1990. Due to the method of counting drug offenses and the fact that this is a crime category highly dependent on the level of police activity, it is difficult to draw any conclusion about the actual amount of crime and/or about changes over time. (Wikstrom & Dolman, 1993, NP)

Comparison of Similar Countries with Similar Legal Systems

As was seen above, Sweden does enjoy a relatively low overall crime rate, specifically among violent crimes such as rape and murder, with most serious crimes occurring as crimes against property. Sweden also has comparatively strict laws regarding violent crime and drug crime. Germany and the UK tend to have similar systems but both tend to have higher rates of crime, possibly associated with regional differences in tourism and immigration. (Reichel, 2008, pp.34, 231, 298-299)

Description of the Legal Tradition

Membership in the European Union has also altered the manner in which crime is treated and the legal system is structured in Sweden, as the EU has created an amalgamation of systems, and some limited universalization of procedures and processes in criminal law, one example of this is the accepted use of the European Arrest Warrant, by most nation members in the EU including Sweden.. (Reichel, 2008, p. 231) Malmstrm, May 25, 2007, NP) According to the CIA world factbook Sweden's laws are based on, "civil law system influenced by customary law; accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction with reservations." ("Sweden," 2008, NP)

Substantive Law

The substantive law of Sweden is defined in legislation as well as in the legal code of the national, state, regional and local governments.

Procedural Law

That having been said the procedural law of the nation is largely dictated by the court system, which is extensive and structured in much the same way as the U.S. court system. Procedural laws must follow certain patterns, as is true in the U.S., and procedural law is limitedly flexible with regard to sentencing, and mitigating considerations by judges.

Number of judges. The number of judges in Sweden by level of general court:

Supreme Court

Appeal Courts

District Courts

The figures within brackets refer to the number of judges with a permanent position. (Wikstrom & Dolman, 1993, NP)

Description of Law Enforcement System

The police force is generally described by a list of jurisdictional identities. The police force in general is charged with both enforcement of laws and prevention of crime. (Other localized and private organizations have also been developed at a grass roots level to assist in prevention tactics).

The organization of the police system according to organization and administration report for budget year 1992/1993:

The Government and the Ministry of Justice

The National Police Board and the National Forensic Laboratory

County administrative boards (24)

County police commissioners (24)

Police authorities and police areas (117) (Wikstrom & Dolman, 1993, NP)

Organization of Police Force

The organization of the police force can also be described by a description of the roles and responsibilities of the different branches of the police force, as they are described by Wikstrom & Dolman in U.S. Department of Justice, World Factbook of Criminal Justice Systems.

The areas of activity of the National Police Board are: (1)the National Police Board's central administrative authority, (2)the National Criminal Investigation department, and (3)the National Police College. The National Police Board is also the governing authority for the National Forensic Laboratory (SKL). In its role as a central administrative authority it is the task of the National Police Board to communicate the Government's priorities and guidelines for operation as well as following up and inspecting the police system. The Board should strive for sound methods as well as coordination and rationalization of police work. In its capacity as a central administrative authority, the Board also has the role of service body for the local police organization.

The National Police Board (RPS) manages certain police activities. This applies mainly to serious crime with national or international ramifications. The management of police activities carried on by RPS is performed by the National Criminal Investigation Department. The National Investigation Department also provides reinforcements for local police organizations; reinforcement of other police authorities is around 75% of the National Investigation Department's operation. It may be a case of providing assistance in investigation work in connection with murder investigations and other serious crimes of violence, drug offenses or organized car theft for export. The National Investigation Department is also responsible for Swedish UN police activities as well as Interpol activities.

The National Forensic Laboratory (SKL) is the central Swedish laboratory for forensic investigations. SKL mainly carries out laboratory investigations when there is suspicion of crime.

The National Police Board is responsible for the activities of the National Police College. The Police College provides basic training of police officers, police management training, advanced courses, contract courses, research and development work.

The Security Police report directly to the National Police Commissioner. The security police gather information on situations that may be important for the external or internal safety of the nation and for combating terrorism.

The local police organization is divided into 117 police authorities or police areas. Beginning with the fiscal year 92/93 the funds of the local police organizations will be distributed between 26 secondary budgets, one for each county (24) as well as one for joint requirements and one for crime investigation activities. The overall responsibility for both activities and finances within the county's police force rests with the county administrative board.

Special areas outside the local organization are the marine police that maintain order and safety at sea. The marine police cooperate with customs and coast guard to guard the frontier and restricted areas. The marine police also assist in rescue assignments. The cost of the operation was SEK 31 millions for fiscal year 92/93.

The activities of the police force as regards aliens consist of basic investigation and exclusion or deportation. Other matters concerning aliens include nationality cases and extension of residence permits. Since 1992 investigations of applications for asylum have been dealt with by the National Immigration Board.

Frontier control and airport guarding are, on the other hand, matters for the customs and police. (Wikstrom & Dolman, 1993, NP)

Organizational Structure

Though Sweden does have compartmentalized police forces, by jurisdiction and region the overall structure is one of a centralized force, with branches of service that are governed, funded and coordinated by the National Police Force Board. (Reichel, 2008, pp. 232-233)

Comparison of Similar Law Enforcement Systems

For this reason the comparison model for the Swedish system is France, which according to the classification system in Reichel includes a system with multiple police forces that are governed by a central agency. (Reichel, 2008, p. 233)

Jurisdiction of Each Unit

Regional and national jurisdictions are recognized in Sweden and generally national jurisdiction includes those that function to resolve national issues, national security, migration issues and international legal matters, such as crimes committed outside the nation by Swedish nationals and other EU crime issues. ("Criminal Matters," 2008, NP) Local and State police forces are responsible for apprehending and reporting local and state crime, as with many other systems, the issue of criminal act goes from municipal to local to state as the criminal act travels through the nation.

Selection and Training of Law Enforcement Personnel

Police selection and training is an example of centralization of the system as it is under the jurisdiction of the National Police College in Stockholm. In a basic sense there are two career choices, criminal investigation or uniformed police officer. Qualification includes Swedish citizenship, age of 20, high school education, one year of work experience outside of the police force, good health, a body fit for police work, a drivers license and the ability to swim. "In August 1994, 5,812 persons applied for police officer training and of these 191 were accepted, 51 of whom were females." (Wikstrom

Dolman, 1993, NP) in addition to the above qualification, consideration for police criminal investigation positions requires a degree in law, and these officers are designated as police commissioners and require additional training. "In 1991 700 persons applied to the police commissioner training program and 30 were accepted." (Wikstrom

Dolman, 1993, NP) Training for police officer…[continue]

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