Kill the cat on your wedding night.
“The more time that passes between the crime and prosecution, the greater the risk that the plaintiff will change her mind.”
Who: Camilla Johansson, investigator in the external interview group of the family violence unit, north-west Skåne police district.
What: Turns out immediately there is a police report of violence in a close relationship.
“In the past, less serious cases were often put on one side. There was always something else to deal with, something more serious, that had to be given priority. Rapes and cases of violation of a woman’s integrity, for example. The more time that passes between the crime and prosecution, the greater the risk that the plaintiff will change her mind.”
The members of the interview team are changed once every six months. Camilla Johansson and her three colleagues have only been working inside the police station in Helsingborg for a few months. She normally works at the home burglary unit in Helsingborg.
“I find family violence much more exciting to work with than, for example, investigating cases of fraud. It makes you realise just how important it is that all the evidence is gathered at the scene of the crime,” says Camilla Johansson.
She remembers the first case of violation of a woman’s integrity she was involved in as a police officer on patrol. The woman who had been assaulted refused to take part in a video interview and Camilla Johansson was not allowed to photograph her injuries. But she was allowed to measure the size of the bruises, and her report was enough for the prosecutor to start proceedings. Camilla had to appear in court as a witness, and the man was convicted, even though the woman refused to participate.
She was allowed to measure the size of the bruises, and her report was enough for the prosecutor to start proceedings.
Camilla is currently working with a case which involves a woman who is originally from another country and who has reported her husband for assault. The woman says that there is a witness, another woman whom she met on the stairs when her husband pushed her out of the door. The plaintiff does not know who the woman is, only that she did not speak Swedish either.
“There are 34 women living round that staircase,” sighs Camilla Johansson. “Many of them don’t speak any Swedish, and some of them are afraid of the police. But I’ve managed to get hold of most of them. They all say they didn’t see anything. One of the women who lives there died recently. What if she was our witness? Or if it is someone who doesn’t even live there? By the way, have we had a message from reception?”
She is waiting for a power of attorney from a woman who sought medical care after an assault. The power of attorney will give the police access to the woman’s medical records, enabling them to gather evidence in the preliminary investigation into the alleged assault.
“Does the power of attorney also include the ambulance staff?” wonders Camilla Johansson. It seems the woman said things in the ambulance that might be important for the investigation.
Birgitta Bergström, head of the family violence unit, confirms that it does. The power of attorney releases everyone who works in the healthcare sector in the region of Skåne from the duty of medical confidentiality.
“Having the trainee detective inspectors working here for six months is a good way of spreading knowledge about crimes committed in close relationships through the police force,” says Birgitta Bergström. “We handle difficult cases. Someone who has worked with our investigations is better able to understand the things he or she meets when they are out in the patrol cars, or in their normal work.”
Someone who has worked with our investigations is better able to understand the things he or she meets when they are out in the patrol cars, or in their normal work.”
The speedy work of the external interview group has improved the crime solving statistics, particularly for more serious crimes in close relationships. Thanks to the fact that Camilla Johansson and her colleagues deal quickly with the less serious crimes, resources are freed up to enable the police to investigate the more serious crimes, such as rape and violation of a woman’s integrity, more efficiently. And when the police deal with an assault immediately, even if it is not too serious and perhaps a first offence, it sends a clear signal to the perpetrator who has struck the blow. That can act as a deterrent.
Maternal deaths: 5 deaths per 100,000 births
Number of children/woman: 1.67 (2011)
Abortion legislation: Right to abortion up to the end of the 18th week of pregnancy
Law against rape within marriage: Yes
Violence against women in close relationships: On average 17 women are killed each year by their husband, boyfriend, ex-husband or ex-boyfriend.