In 2017, a Swedish police report, “Utsatta områden 2017“, (“Vulnerable Areas 2017”, commonly known as “no-go zones” or lawless areas) showed that there are 61 such areas in Sweden. They encompass 200 criminal networks, consisting of an estimated 5,000 criminals. Twenty-three of those areas were especially critical: children as young as 10 had been involved in serious crimes there, including ones involving weapons and drugs. Most of the inhabitants were non-Western, mainly Muslim, immigrants.
A new report “The Relationship with the Judiciary in Socially Vulnerable Areas” from BRÅ (Brottsförebyggande Rådet), the Swedish Crime Prevention Council, shows that more than half of the inhabitants of these areas — around 500,000 people — think that criminals affect people in the areas by scaring people from appearing as witnesses, from calling the police, from moving freely, and from intervening when witnessing vandalism. Residents fear repercussions from the local criminals, not only against themselves but also against family members.
According to BRÅ, “Silence has become an established norm in certain groups of inhabitants” in these areas. The new report also notes the existence of parallel legal systems. 12% of the people living in these areas said that there is pressure from relatives and religious communities not to contact authorities, but to use instead local alternative systems, such as the mosque. Sometimes, the local criminal gangs even tell the residents to call them, instead of the police, to minimize the presence of police in the area. These alternative systems appear to handle all crimes that have to do with “reputation” and “honor” but also deal with other crimes, such as blackmail and theft. Relationship issues, including divorce and child custody, are also often handled by the local mosque. BRÅ points out that these alternative systems are often “markedly patriarchal”, disadvantaging the rights of women and children.