Police in Sweden have appealed to residents to photograph and film people they see rioting in the streets, as they struggle to bring under control the violent unrest that has spread throughout the capital city of Stockholm for more than a week.
Help has been requested from police forces in other parts of the country, and police from Gothenburg and Malmo have joined their counterparts in Stockholm, with many predicting the violence may escalate over the weekend.
Stockholm Police has also encouraged communities to come together to form Neighbourhood Watch-style patrol groups.
“We would like once again to point out that we can only move forward if we help each other,” the Stockholm Police said in a statement published on its website and to its thousands of friends on Facebook. “Filming and photographing, if it can be done without risk, can be very valuable in our investigations.”
In the worst rioting seen in the country in decades, several hundred cars have been set on fire, as well as a school, a police station, a restaurant and a 300-year-old art centre.
Several communities have used social media to organise groups to set up patrol schemes. In Husby, the northern suburb where the riots started last week, groups from the local mosque have patrolled central areas after dark. It was here that, almost two weeks ago, a 68-year-old man was shot dead in his apartment by police, after he was waving a knife, which the man’s brother-in-law has claimed was to protect his wife of 30 years from a gang of youths.
Residents of Huddinge, a diverse area south of central Stockholm, have also organised their own groups to roam the streets at night.
“We are not trying to do the police’s job for them,” said Linda Lindblom, a crime prevention and equality worker who set up the Huddinge group. “We need more people outside after dark. It’s a good idea. We need to do it, not the police. We will go out, watch and, if we see something, we call the police.”
With hundreds of people believed to have been rioting, only 29 arrests have been made, and the vast majority of those people have been released, many because they are under 16.