Denmark’s courts hand out tougher sentences for rape, violence

The majority of crimes are being punished with tougher sentences than before, according to a judge's association in Denmark.

Denmark’s courts hand out tougher sentences for rape, violence
File photo: Mads Claus Rasmussen/Ritzau Scanpix

Convictions for crimes such as rape and assault are being met with stronger punishments than in previous years, according to Ministry of Justice figures.

The length of punishment for violent assault increased by 25 percent between 2011 and 2017, while rape convictions are resulting in a 20 percent longer sentence after the same timeframe. Sentences for paedophilia have also increased, by an average of 36 percent, according to newspaper Kristeligt Dagblad, which reported a breakdown of the figures.

The trend reflects political will to apply tougher punishments on crime, according to Michael Sjöberg, chairperson of the Association of Danish Judges (Dommerforeningen).

“We are following the wishes of the government and parliament. We are now giving tougher punishments for almost all crimes,” Sjöberg told Kristeligt Dagblad.

A further example of the trend is the sentence given for illegal possession of weapons, which has increased from an average measurable in months to two years in prison.

Minister of Justice Søren Pape Poulsen reacted positively to the figures.

“Dangerous crime can have consequences for individual lives and for individual victims. Having to stay behind bars longer may put off or scare away some people from committing crimes, so I am pleased to see this trend,” Poulsen said to Kristeligt Dagblad.

READ ALSO: Gang member sentenced to 20 years in prison, deportation for attempted murder of police officers


Why Copenhagen police say crime is on the up in Christiania

Crime in Copenhagen’s hippie enclave of Christiania is increasing, police in the capital say following a number of drugs-related arrests.

Why Copenhagen police say crime is on the up in Christiania

Copenhagen Police arrested three men on Saturday for selling cannabis on Pusher Street in the alternative enclave of Christiania, as they continue their efforts to stamp out the area’s former open-air cannabis market. 

According to police, 875 people were arrested for selling cannabis in the first 11 months of 2022, more than in any other year over the past four years. 

A possible explanation for the increase in arrests could be that the rewards for operating hash stands have receded, according to a police spokesperson.

“It is extremely unattractive to stand out there, and therefore a lot of new people come in who have no idea what it is all about. Many of them come from outside the catchment area, and some of them are peripherally associated with a criminal group,” Simon Hansen, head of a Copenhagen Police special unit, told newspaper Politiken.

“It’s a bit – in inverted commas – ‘easier’ for us to catch these people,” he said. 

Around half of the stalls in the street are linked to various gangs and biker gangs, such as Satudarah, Bandidos, Hells Angels and Loyal To Familia, with the rest run by people living in Christiania, the Berlingske newspaper reported earlier this month.

The trend of rising crime occurs against a background of potential housing develop in Christiania, as the enclave’s residents decide on a plan to put affordable housing in the area.

Copenhagen Police last year told news wire Ritzau that the majority of people who are arrested within Christiania come from socially underprivileged or marginalised backgrounds.

They are exploited in gang and biker circles, resulting in them in some cases operating the illicit hash market stalls, according to the police.

Conflicts between organised crime groups have reportedly become more frequently aired in the Pusher Street market.

READ ALSO: Denmark’s ‘freetown’ Christiania hangs onto soul, 50 years on