Municipal defector activities require better coordination


Municipal defector activities aimed at criminals face a range of challenges. There needs to be better coordination at the national level, writes Anna Hedlund, social anthropologist at the School of Global Studies, in a new report for SNS, Center for Business and Policy Studies.

More and more people approach municipal defector activities to get help when it comes to leaving criminal environments. In Gothenburg alone, sixty or so such cases were handled in 2021. And as the number of defectors is increasing, the organization of such activities also faces increasing demands. Some challenges may have serious consequences, writes researcher Anna Hedlund in the SNS report Defections from Criminal Groups in Big Cities: How Does This Work at the Municipal Level?

“I have interviewed key individuals working in defector activities in the three largest cities in Sweden and have observed that there is a great deal of knowledge in the municipalities. However, such activities also involve several challenges regarding aspects such as coordination and guidelines. I propose that a national knowledge center is established tasked with contributing to a more uniform division of responsibilities as well as more structure in these activities,” says Anna Hedlund, senior lecturer in social anthropology at the School of Global Studies, University of Gothenburg.

When more defectors are relocated without coordination between municipalities, there is an increased risk of old rivals ending up in the same location.

“Several interviewees argue that this could have serious consequences. Once again, we need national guidelines. Municipalities and the police must work together to ensure that defectors being relocated to certain locations does not lead to new conflicts,” says Anna Hedlund.

In the report, municipalities communicate that the number of private actors offering support to defectors has increased in recent years In cases where municipalities have granted support to defectors, these external actors step in to take over the work with defectors. Several interviewees expressed great concerns regarding the lack of transparency and monitoring.

“All three municipalities call for guidance with regard to defector activities and private actors. In my view, it is reasonable to argue that we need better monitoring in this area as well,” says Anna Hedlund.

Simon Torell Witt, press contact at SNS
Telephone: +46 766-97 69 88

Download the report

Download the report (in Swedish) on the SNS website: Defections from Criminal Groups in Big Cities: How Does This Work at the Municipal Level?

SNS, Center for Business and Policy Studies, is an independent, non-profit organization that brings together the worlds of academia, business and government for knowledge-sharing and dialogue on key societal issues.