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Copenhagen 'ignored' gang members on social welfare: report

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Copenhagen 'ignored' gang members on social welfare: report
File photo: Tariq Mikkel Khan/Polfoto/Ritzau
10:00 CET+01:00
Copenhagen Municipality's department for jobs and integration did not take systematic steps to place gang members receiving social welfare at work, according to a report.

In a response to a request for information by radio station Radio24syv, the municipality confirmed that there “has not previously been strategic and systematic use of work placement [nytteaktivering in Danish, ed.] for gang members in Copenhagen Municipality.”

The radio station reported in September that over 60 percent of all gang members in Denmark receive social welfare payments.

Minister for employment Troels Lund Poulsen rejected suggestions for a law change made by now-former Copenhagen Municipality councillor Anna Mee Allerslev following the September report.

Allerslev called for tougher measures against gang members on social welfare in a message posted on her Facebook account.

“If we cannot stop them from receiving money, we can at least ensure that gang members work for their social welfare every day of the year. That requires a change in the law and working closely with the police, who must guarantee safety,” Allerslev wrote.

But a law change is not required, according to Poulsen, who said that Copenhagen Municipality already has a number of options if it wants to place people receiving social welfare in so-called activation (aktivering), whereby they are temporarily placed in a job by the municipality in order to qualify for the support.

A scheme of this nature has been implemented by the municipality in Odense.

A special unit designed to assist gang members on social welfare was set up by Odense Municipality in March this year.

The unit requires gang members to attend meetings more often than other people receiving social welfare and puts them in work placements more often.

Odense Municipality spokesperson Jane Findahl said the initiative had had a positive effect.

Of the 40 individuals on social welfare with gang connections initially involved in the scheme, half are no longer receiving social welfare support of any kind. Those no longer receiving support are now either enrolled in education, are employed, have moved out of the municipality or are in prison, according to the report. 

READ ALSO: Danish street gang expanding into Sweden: police

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