Prevent new recruitment of children and young people to criminal networks

The most important way to stop new recruitment of children and young people to criminal networks in the long term is through prevention. Here we describe some common measures and projects.

Part of the Police’s crime prevention work involves conversations with parents and custodians. Another part are the different forms of cooperation with the municipalities.

Report a crime or give a tip-off

Tip-off the Police

Do you suspect that your child or someone you care about is being lured into a criminal environment? Tip off the Police using our tip-off form (in Swedish). You can also call 114 14. You will hear an automated response, just say “tips” to get to the next stage. You don’t have to give your name if you wish to remain anonymous.

Report all offences to the Police

On 1 July a new act will enter into force that makes it a criminal offence to involve children and young people in criminal activity. If you think that a child is being exploited for criminal acts, it is important that you report this to the Police.

It is already a criminal offence to help criminals commit offences.

Making a Report

Every child matters – together we can turn the trend around.

Support to families

Parents and custodians sometimes need support in their role from others. This is common so don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Information about support to families can often be found on the municipality’s or healthcare region’s website. Ask for help from other adults you trust: teachers, family, neighbours and friends.

Talk to and cooperate with the Police or social services in your municipality. Ask for advice, listen and be open. We have the same goal: for all children and young people to prosper and avoid ending up in a life of crime.

All municipalities in Sweden

What is temporary custody?

Sometimes the Police will drive a young person home to their parents/custodians or, if this is not appropriate, to social services. This is in cases where there is a serious risk for the child’s health or development. The Police have the right to take young people under the age of 18 into temporary custody.

What is a conversation with parents/custodians?

Conversations with parents/custodians are a way for the Police to prevent crime. This kind of conversation can save both the child and others from being subjected to danger in the future.

What happens during these conversations?

The Police will visit the home of the child to talk to both the child and their parents/custodians. Sometimes a social worker from social services in that municipality will accompany the Police on the home visit.

During the conversation with the child, the focus tends to be on the child’s positive qualities and opportunities. The conversation with the parents/custodians is more problem-oriented and provides information about the consequences of crime and norm-breaking behaviour.

What is the purpose?

The purpose of these conversations is to catch children and young people who are in the risk zone, to show a clear reaction and provide information about the consequences of committing crime. The conversation reviews the child’s situation and addresses what is needed to remedy any problems.

This kind of home visit can make parents/custodians more aware of the environment their child is growing up in.

What do the municipality’s social services do?

Every child is entitled to a safe upbringing. The municipality’s social services assess whether a child needs protection or support and finds out what is best for the child and the family.

Social services are there to support families and protect children. If social services need to investigate a situation, the parents and children will be included and given the chance to tell their story.

What is a notification of concern?

If you think that a child is in danger you can report this to the municipality’s social services. This is called a notification of concern. The notification should include the child’s name, the observations made and what kind of concern there is for the child. Consistent information from different sources will help social services gain a clearer picture of the child’s situation.

Staff at the Police, school, healthcare services and dental care are obliged by law to immediately report if they suspect in the course of their work that a child under 18 is in danger.

Different forms of cooperation

The Police and the municipalities work together in a structured manner to help young people who are suspected of using drugs, committing crimes or having contact with criminals.

Here are a few examples of the different forms of cooperation:

Schools, social services, Police and out-of-school activities (SSPF)

Cooperation between schools, social services, Police and out-of-school activities, known as SSPF, is intended to prevent and pre-empt young people ending up in a life of crime, being recruited to criminal gangs and/or starting with substance abuse. The objective is for young people to attend school regularly and enjoy a life free from crime and drugs.

Social Task Force (SIG)

The municipalities’ Social Task Force, known as SIG (pdf in Swedish), is a joint project of the Police and social services with the aim of stopping new recruitment of children and young people to criminal networks. The Social Task Force can also provide support to individuals wishing to leave the criminal lifestyle behind them.

The individuals involved must first give their consent to the authorities sharing information with each other to be able to help each other.  

Defection programme

Social services also run a defection programme. The scale of the programme varies between municipalities.

A defector is an individual who has chosen to leave organised crime and who is considered to be in need of society’s support and protection in order to achieve this. A defector could also be someone under the age of 18.

An individual can defect from a local criminal network, an honour context, violent extremist circles or a loosely defined criminal group. One prerequisite is that there is a very strong threat.

If you or someone you know is in this kind of situation, you should contact the Police. Ask to be put in touch with the regional or local defection coordinator. You can also contact social services in your municipality.

Criminal networks are recruiting children