This morning my wife got a disturbing call on her cell phone from some sort of sexual pervert. He knows her name and cell number and in Sweden that means he has access to just about anything else he wants to know about her. An unsettling thought.
He called from a protected number so his details were not available to us. I immediately called 118-118 to see if they could tell me who made the call. They said it would be best to call the police at 114-14. I did that.
I told the officer (a woman, if that makes any difference) that my wife had received a threatening phone call of a sexual nature and we were very concerned. I asked if they could find the owner of the number. “Yes we can” she replied. “But it will be very expensive for you.” she continued. She went on to explain that it would also take a long time and involve a lot of paperwork for me. It was obvious she was doing her level best to dissuade me from pursuing this.
A few observations. First I pay my taxes, so does my wife. In fact, like most residents here, we pay lots of taxes. Taxes fund public service like the police department. Then why do I need to pay again for them to investigate a crime that has been committed? Look at this in practice: Swedish residents who are wealthy enough to pay the “very expensive” fee receive protection from sexual predators. If you are not wealthy – tough luck. BTW the Swedish tax code was purpose-built to ensure that Swedes remain in the latter category.
Second, the law defines verbal abuse of a sexual nature as assault. With all Sweden’s posturing with regard to women’s rights etc… how can this be brushed off so lightly? In any developed nation, sexual threats are considered a serious crime. Yet the Swedish policewoman I spoke with did everything she could to talk me out of pursuing it.
Experience has taught me to expect people on a government payroll to lack the motivation and competence to make a positive difference. That’s mostly because they are not molded by the pressures of a competitive enterprise. But I have always expected more from police and firemen. I think we all should.
I have had the misfortune of dealing with the Swedish police on several occasions over the years. Each encounter provides further insight into a bungled, risk-aversive law enforcement system that works very poorly for the victim and quite favorably for the criminal. But paying for their services is a new low — even for the Swedish police. What happened this morning is simply a reminder that if and when you do need the police in this country, your need had better suit their schedule, priorities, dogma and risk tolerance — and then be prepared to pay.