New video surveillance offensive against criminal networks – new and better tools for the Swedish Police
Video surveillance is effective in preventing crime, is a valuable tool in criminal investigations and can be used to stop crimes while they are in progress. In light of the recent wave of violence, the Government has presented a new video surveillance offensive that will allow the Swedish Police Authority to make better use of facial recognition and automatic number plate recognition technologies and direct access to traffic cameras.
“This is of major practical importance in preventing more shootings and bombings. It will also dramatically improve the ability of the Swedish Police to identify and prosecute criminals. This is about making the rules simpler and clearer and thus expanding the use of video surveillance and other effective tools in law enforcement,” says Minister for Justice Gunnar Strömmer.
As part of its efforts to revamp law and order policy, earlier this year the Government appointed an inquiry on video surveillance. The inquiry’s task consists of two parts. The first is to investigate the need for simplified rules on video surveillance for municipalities and regions. The general approach of the inquiry is to abolish permit requirements for municipalities and regions that want to use video surveillance in public places. The second part is a broadly formulated assignment to investigate expanding the video surveillance powers of the Swedish Police.
Due to the escalating situation with increasingly serious gang violence, the Government sees a need for a new video surveillance offensive. This offensive consists of four parts.
- The Government has adopted supplementary terms of reference for the ongoing video surveillance inquiry. The inquiry will be tasked with reviewing and proposing legislative amendments that will enable the Police to increase its use of drones with surveillance cameras. The inquiry has also been tasked with proposing additional exemptions from the rules requiring video surveillance notice signs, e.g. for camera systems in unmarked police cars.
- Three legislative amendments enabling additional video surveillance powers will be examined by the Government Offices in an expedited process. The Police will be given greater leeway to use video surveillance with automatic number plate recognition, access video surveillance material from other operators, such as traffic cameras, and use facial recognition to a greater extent to identify gang members, etc.
- A new quantitative camera target has been added to the appropriation directions for the Swedish Police Authority. It stipulates that the Police should increase the number of stationary and mobile surveillance cameras from the current target of 1 600 cameras to 2 500 cameras for 2024. This means that the number of cameras will increase fivefold by the end of 2024 in comparison with 2022.
- The Government will also task the Swedish Police Authority, the Swedish Transport Administration and the Swedish Transport Agency with reviewing and presenting any necessary proposals on how the Swedish Police can be given increased access to existing camera systems connected to the national transport infrastructure. The aim is to improve the ability of the Swedish Police to monitor the movements of gang members throughout Sweden and to enable a much-needed expansion of police intelligence-gathering.
The proposals are based on an agreement between the Sweden Democrats, the Moderate Party, the Christian Democrats and the Liberal Party.