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Today in Denmark: A roundup of the news on Tuesday

Increasing 'coercion' at Danish child psychiatry centres, a big bust on illegal e-cigarette vendors, and why you shouldn't crank the radiator despite falling prices are among the top stories in Denmark on Tuesday.

Today in Denmark: A roundup of the news on Tuesday
Danish authorities are cracking down on e-cigarette vendors selling illegal products thought to target minors. File photo: Ronen Zvulun/Reuters

Only by saving energy can Danish consumers avoid high prices this winter 

While the price of electricity has fallen back to earth from its recent sky-high levels, it’s important that Danish consumers don’t return their usage habits to normal too, energy experts tell broadcaster TV2

Right now, the Danish gas reserves that serve as an emergency backup are full, while issues at European power plants that exacerbated the crisis have been largely resolved. 

“We have been able to keep prices down because we have stood together and been good at saving. If we go back to normal, we could be in a situation again where we will lack gas, coal or electricity,” says Jim Vilsson, senior economist at Energinet, an energy company owned by the Danish state. “We will have to think about what we use our electricity and gas for.” 

READ MORE: Danes change habits to cut energy use at home by over 12 percent 

Restraints, force-feeding and forced medication: coercion on the rise at Danish psychiatric hospitals for children and adolescents 

More than one in five children who receive inpatient psychiatric treatment in Denmark experience some form of coercion, a report from the Danish Health Authority (Sundhedsstyrelsen) indicates. 

The current figure — 21.1 percent — is up from 15.3 percent in 2015, and the Health Authority describes the upward trend as “very worrying.”  

Jane Alrø Sørensen of the Better Psychiatry association (Bedre Psykiatrisays an increase in force-feeding, the use of restraints, and other forms of coercion are symptomatic of insufficient staffing — it simply takes less time to force a child to do something than to persuade them.

“We know that one of the most effective things in reducing coercion is time for patients,” she says. “And that there is time to work in a motivating way, with patience, with empathy, so that you can see how to motivate treatment and avoid children becoming uncomfortable. 

READ MORE: Experts call for Denmark to spend billions on mental health 

Agency busts illegal e-cig dealers, charges millions in fines 

The Danish Patient Safety Authority has reported 56 dealers of illegal disposable e-cigarettes to the police, in addition to levying 36 million kroner in fines, a press release from the agency says. 

The dealers — a mixture of website operators, physical stores, kiosks, and social media sellers — are accused of selling nicotine products targeted at minors. The illegal disposable e-cigarettes are often imported from the US and come in sweet, fruity flavours that make them more palatable to young people, the agency says. 

As part of the operation, the DPSA shut down 280 profiles on Snapchat, Instagram, TikTok and Facebook peddling the illegal e-cigs. 

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Today in Denmark: A roundup of the news on Friday

Falling unemployment, the Danish government refusing to accept debt payments from citizens, and plans for a fully swimmable Copenhagen harbour are among the top news stories in Denmark on Friday.

Today in Denmark: A roundup of the news on Friday

Danish government returns debt payments from 138,000 people 

Having a debt to the Danish public sector on your books can have serious financial consequences, including jeopardizing your eligibility to secure a mortgage. But from January to October 2022, 138,000 Danes trying to square their debts with the government were refused due to confusion about whether the Danish Debt Collection Agency actually has the right to receive it, newspaper Berlingske reports.

Data from the agency indicate the number of debts considered “not ready for recovery” has leapt 1.5 million this year alone. Half of those debts are connected to Danish tax agency, Skat. 

According to Berlingske, the issues with ‘unpayable’ debts arose in 2015 when EFI, the IT system Skat used to collect debt, was shuttered. 

Based on the scale of the problem, the government will have to consider cancelling some of the debts, Peter Bjerre Mortensen, professor of public administration at Aarhus University, tells Berlingske. 

“They need to swallow some very big camels and/or simplify some legislation or forgive some debts, because right now it seems that things are still going the wrong way,” Mortensen says. 

READ MORE: ‘Topskat’: What is Denmark’s high income tax bracket? 

Politicians push for ‘fully swimmable’ Copenhagen harbour 

Currently, swimming in Copenhagen’s harbours is only allowed at 11 designated bathing zones — though that doesn’t deter the estimated 200,000 people who take a dip elsewhere in the harbour yearly, risking fines. Now, Copenhagen mayor Sophie Hæstorp Andersen and other local politicians hope to flip the system on its head, making the vast majority of the harbour swimmable with a few ‘no-go’ zones. 

City officials plan to mark certain areas — for instance, near wastewater outlets or sailboat traffic — with ‘no swimming’ signs. 

READ MORE: Why the shocking cold of winter bathing is a Nordic favourite 

Unemployment continues to fall in Denmark 

October marked another record-breaking low for unemployment in Denmark, according to data from the Danish Agency for Labour Market and Recruitment and the Danish Chamber of Commerce. 

Just 11,519 full-time workers were experiencing ‘long-term unemployment’ (meaning they had been unemployed for at least 80 percent of the previous year) in October. That’s down from 12,400 in September, which was the lowest figure in 26 years, according to newswire Ritzau. 

In March 2020, there were 22,000 long-term unemployment benefit recipients, which spiked to 40,000 in April 2021.