Sweden takes steps to prevent attacks on emergency workers

The Swedish government will introduce a new law that would make it a specific crime to attack emergency service personnel.

“Anyone who has the task of helping others and saving lives deserves respect and should be able to do their work without being disturbed or attacked,” Swedish Justice Minister Morgan Johansson told SVT.

On Thursday, the government adopted a proposal aimed at strengthening the protection of police, firefighters and paramedics.

“We should be tough against crime but also against the causes of crime,” Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven said at a press conference during an earlier visit to a police training academy.

The law would make it a specific offense to attack or disturb personnel with intent to seriously obstruct law enforcement or emergency service operations.

The offense covers three categories: threats and violence; theft or damage to vehicles or equipment (such as throwing rocks at cars or attacks on police horses and dogs; and a third, broader, range of acts.

“It can be about everything from detonating explosives in a police station, but it also covers situations where you try to get in the way and hinder emergency services,” Johansson told SVT.

SVT reported that the new law prescribes a maximum jail term of four years when the crime committed falls into the ‘general’ category. If the offense is considered gross, the penalty would be at least 2 years but a maximum of 18 years in prison or a life sentence.

The new law will enter into force on Jan. 1, 2020.