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Danish government wants double punishments for crimes in underprivileged areas

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File photo: Asger Ladefoged/Scanpix Denmark
14:47 CET+01:00
Vandalism, theft and threatening behaviour will be punished more severely in areas defined as 'special punishment zones', according to a new plan to be set out by the Danish government.

Double punishments for certain types of offence committed in underprivileged areas defined as 'ghettos' will form part of a programme of measures aimed at the marginalised zones, Justice Minister Søren Pape Poulsen told newspaper Berlingske.

They exact types of crime to be subjected to the harsher punishments is yet to be confirmed, but will be defined as part of the parliamentary process to establish the new measures, according to the report.

The government will not decide which areas are to be subject to 'double punishment' for the crimes in question.

This will be left under the jurisdiction of police chiefs locally, Berlingske reports.

But Poulsen told the newspaper that forms of criminality that contributed to 'parallel societies' would be targeted by the measure.

"Vandalism, theft or threats could be the reason [for stricter punishments]. That means the hammer will fall extra hard in those areas," he said.

Parliamentary ally the Danish People's Party said it would not comment on the report before seeing the proposal in its entirety.

But opposition Social Democrat spokesperson Trine Bramsen told Berlingske that her party considered the measure of targeting specified areas with harsher punishments "sensible".

A concerted effort to reduce crime and social inequality in Denmark's underprivileged areas was announced by Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen in his traditional New Year's speech.

But the measure could represent a gamble with rule of law in the Scandinavian country, said Birgitte Arent Eiriksson, legal advisor with thinktank Justitia.

"Where there is rule of law, it is very, very important that everyone is equal before the law. But I find it difficult to see how that could be the case with this proposal," she said.

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