Foreigners causing crime in Norway are now bringing about a change in officials’ thinking.
Amongst fears of Schengen expansion, and deporting an increasing number of Eastern Europeans to complete their sentences at home, come suggestions for foreign convicts to get their own prisons.
Statistics suggests that foreign prisoners are originally from Lithuania, Poland, Romania and Nigeria. 60 of 67 inmates jailed in Bergen for economic crimes this spring were foreigners.
Moreover, non-Norwegian prisoner numbers, some of whom return to offend again, have doubled in the last five years. According to next year’s the proposed state budget, this equates to 1,178 inmates.
“Half of the capacity we have in closed prisons are now occupied by foreign prisoners,” head of the Association of Correctional Professionals (Kriminalomsorgens Yrkesforbund), Knut Are Svenkerud, says to TV2.
Whilst waiting for criminals to serve their time before being returned to their home nation, Minister of Justice Knut Storberget argues special ‘foreigners only’ prison wards will make doing this “more practical and manageable.”
Meanwhile, police have turned to new methods to fight gangs of Eastern European criminals who commit robberies in Norway. Many are tailed in Norway, or back to their country by undercover police before they, or even entire criminal networks are arrested, NRK reports.
One gang of Lithuanians stole video and photographic equipment in Andenes last month totalling 400,000 kroner. Officers apprehended them after following their vehicle back to a storage place filled with stolen goods.
National serious and organised crime unit (Kripos) personnel say Eastern Europeans, especially Lithuanians, post the biggest threat in Norway. Norwegian and Lithuanian police have joined forces as part of a crackdown on this type of crime.
Half-yearly police figures show serious thefts in general, not just by Lithuanians, have dropped by 35 percent in the last nine years.
“Knocking out criminal networks of some significance means we have to follow them over time. Furthermore, it’s also true we follow them whilst they commit crimes in Norway,” says Odd Reidar Humlegård, head of Kripos.
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