Danish PM singles out foreigners as government plans clampdown on gangs

Ritzau/The Local
Ritzau/The Local - [email protected]
Danish PM singles out foreigners as government plans clampdown on gangs
Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen says Denmark should punish violent crimes with longer sentences, and said foreign nationals were over-represented in crime figures. Photo: Mads Claus Rasmussen/Ritzau Scanpix

Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said she wants tougher punishments for violent crimes as the government prepares to present a new plan to combat gangs this week.


A plan to increase punishments for serious crimes would target foreign nationals who commit dangerous offences, Frederiksen said in an interview with newspaper Berlingske ahead of a new government proposal package on gang crime, set to be presented on Tuesday.

People with foreign nationality are over-represented in statistics related to violent crime types, the Prime Minister said.

“Unfortunately, the truth is that immigration policy is closely linked to crime, and that there is too large a group that is not part of Denmark,” she said to Berlingske.


“At the same time, we are seeing a crime picture that is changing, which in my eyes is one of Denmark’s biggest challenges of all, because being unsafe is a huge loss of freedom,” she said.

Earlier criticism of the government over policies to ramp up surveillance as a tactic to deter crime has argued that this risks impinging on personal freedom.

Harder punishments should be given for crimes including assault, rape, repeat offences, organised crime, reckless crime and crimes involving humiliation, Frederiksen said.

The governing Social Democrats also want to earmark significant spending, reaching billions of kroner, to ensure sufficient capacity for longer sentences at prisons.

Investment will aim to increase the number of prosecutors and judges as well as prison officers. A new prison will also be financed by the new plan, in addition to a prison with 400 places already agreed in an earlier plan.

The opposition Liberal (Venstre) party expressed skepticism over the timing of Frederiksen’s statements, with speculation high that a general election could take place in Denmark by the early autumn.

READ ALSO: How likely is Denmark to have a general election ahead of schedule?

“It seems like a strange u-turn that the government’s proposal on harsher punishments for criminals is coming out now. Last year, they were part of an agreement to let more criminals out of prison and serve their sentences at home,” said the party’s spokesperson Martin Dahlin, who also chairs parliament’s justice committee.

“The Liberals have called for tougher sentences for a long time and we are ready to do what it takes to clamp down on criminals,” Dahlin said.

The Liberal party, the largest in opposition, wants violence and rape in particular to meet with much tougher punishments.

“But it is not serious to negotiate with a government that has just done the opposite,” Dahlin said.

An expert on the area expressed scepticism over the government plan, in comments reported by broadcaster DR.

“I don’t understand the objective of this proposal because a large number of studies show that longer sentences generally do not have any preventative effect,” Linda Kjær Minke, sociologist and professor at the University of Southern Denmark’s Institute of Law, told DR.

“Research shows that preventative work must be emphasised if you want to end crime,” she said.

The professor also noted that the average length of unconditional prison sentences in Denmark has already increased significantly over the last decade.


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