Examination of Witness (Questions 1520
TUESDAY 19 MARCH 2002
1520. How effective do you think your strategy
(Mr Löfstedt) As effective as any policy could
be. There is no logical reason, in our view, for changing our
policy to any other direction. We are not so repressive as some
people think we are. This has a humanitarian base. On the other
hand, we do not think there is any need for a change to a more
liberal direction. That would cause us more harm than any problems
it would solve.
1521. From what you said earlier, it seemed
that you treat suppliers of illegal drugs differently from users.
(Mr Löfstedt) Yes.
1522. Do I take it, from what you said, that
as far as users are concerned, although they are treated as committing
criminal acts, they are not sentenced through the legal system
for punishment but for treatment?
(Mr Löfstedt) If we are talking about normal
drug addicts, in the normal system they are drug addicts and these
are criminal acts, but they are not in prison because they are
drug addicts; they are in prison because they are committing criminal
acts. That is very important to bear in mind. I think around 45
per cent of all inmates in Swedish prisons are also drug users.
As I said, they are not here because they are drug addicts. The
main line for the criminal justice system is that if there are
people in prison who have a problem with drugs, we should try
to motivate them to have alternative treatment, instead of prison.
We also have a system where part of the sentence can be changed
into ordinary treatment. If they follow the treatment, then that
is all right; if they leave the treatment, they will be sent back
to prison. The whole of the sentence could be for treatment instead
of going to prison. We try to do that. Part of the new action
plan is to make that system more effective, to take care of the
drug addicts's problems with drugs as a first step in helping
them to live a normal life. When it comes to people who are using
drugs but are not committing crime, they will go to court and
be fined but they will not be sent to prison.
1523. Would that apply even if they were only
in possession, say, of a small amount of cannabis for their own
(Mr Löfstedt) Possession is a crime and we have
no limit as to what is free for personal use. Of course, if the
amount is very small, you would not go to prison, but we try to
be hard on drug dealers.
1524. What sort of sentencing policy do you
have for suppliers or drug dealers?
(Mr Löfstedt) I do not know exactly how many
years in prison would be imposed for different crimes. I saw the
European Union study comparing the laws in various European states
and the situation seems similar to me. That was also the conclusion,
that the laws in the various Member States are very similar, but
there is a big difference when it comes to implementation.
1525. How expensive and how pure are illegal
drugs in Sweden?
(Mr Löfstedt) That is another question to which
I do not know the answer.
1526. Has the price gone up or down as a result
of your attempts to control supply?
(Mr Löfstedt) The impression is that the price
is falling and they are sometimes even cheaper than alcohol, I
1527. Do you know whether that has varied over
the last ten years? Have you seen the price come down?
(Mr Löfstedt) My impression is that prices are
stable. If they are moving, they are going down. There is no price
wall, if I am correctly informed. Prices are stable.
1528. We talked about prices and drug use increasing
over the last ten years, going back to the 1970 levels. Has there
been a corresponding increase in crime in Sweden with the increased
use of illicit drugs over the last ten years?
(Mr Löfstedt) I do not think so but I am not
sure. I have not compared the figures. I could do that as well.
1529. I ask the question simply because in the
UK one of the major crime problems we have is that of drug-related
crime. I wondered if there was an increase in drugs in Sweden
and if that had a similar impact?
(Mr Löfstedt) I am not an expert on crime statistics.
I do not have a feeling that that is the case, that we have increasing
1530. Mr Löfstedt, I would like to ask
you about the emphasis on enforcement against drug users in the
Swedish criminal justice system. Could I ask you, firstly: does
this current policy result from the outcomes of the previous more
relaxed policy towards drugs?
(Mr Löfstedt) This has a long history in Sweden,
so it is not a new idea, but, like everything else, it has its
ups and downs. To make the system work efficiently, it is important
that staff in prisons and within the criminal justice system put
effort into this and that they train to motivate people. There
is need for co-operation between prisons and municipalities. Sometimes
it is a bit of a problem to get that co-operation. The idea is
to split the bill between the criminal justice system and municipalities,
which are responsible for treatment. The prison will undertake
the cost for the period until the person is released from prison.
When the treatment continues, the municipality would take over.
1531. Is there any compulsion for withdrawal
treatment, either in prison or outside?
(Mr Löfstedt) We have a law which makes it compulsory.
If you are addicted and not able to take care of yourself, then
you are a danger to yourself or to your family. It is possible
to put that person into a special treatment facility for a maximum
of six months. That is a decision of the court. The purpose is
again to motivate that person to undertake voluntary treatment
for a longer period afterwards.
1532. Can you say how effective the withdrawal
(Mr Löfstedt) No. I have seen some figures stating
that around 80 per cent of these people go on to further voluntary
treatment, but that does not indicate how long they would stay
in voluntary treatment. This is a very hard group with more and
more psychiatric treatment for problems connected with drug use.
It is a very hard group to motivate and treat. Even so, it is
said that there is about an 80 per cent success rate.
1533. Do you think that the policy of enforcement
against drug use has an effect on demand and therefore a knock-on
effect on supply?
(Mr Löfstedt) Yes.
1534. What is the level of public support for
(Mr Löfstedt) I think we have very good support.
There are no differences between the various political parties.
They have more or less the same policy. They might discuss details
in the policy. I saw the report of a poll in a newspaper a month
ago stating that 94 or 96 per cent of Swedish people stand behind
this policy. There is very strong support for the policy.
1535. Do you know if this applies particularly
to parents of school age children?
(Mr Löfstedt) I think this is over the whole
of society. Parents and others support the ideas and the policy.
1536. In this country a very great deal of acquisitive
crimeburglary and theftis committed to fund a drug
habit. Is that your experience as well?
(Mr Löfstedt) Yes.
1537. Is drug-related crime on the increase?
(Mr Löfstedt) I am not sure. I have no figures
on that, so I cannot say.
1538. Could I ask you a bit about sentencing?
You drew a distinction between a drug addict and a criminal who
is a drug addict. In coming before a court in this country, someone
who has committed a burglary to fund a drug a habit, a heroin
habit, would be sent to prison. Did I hear you say that in your
country there is an option to go for part of the sentence in prison
and part for treatment? Could you explain a bit more about what
that actually means?
(Mr Löfstedt) Take a burglar who is also a drug
addict, and let us say he is sentenced to one year in prison for
the burglary. When he arrives at the prison, or perhaps even before
that, an investigation will be started. If that investigation
shows that this person is in need of treatment for his drug addiction,
and that perhaps that is the main reason why he is a criminal,
the criminal justice system, or the officers within the system,
together with the municipalities, are supposed to make a plan
for this person. That plan could state that for the rest of the
sentence this person should go on a voluntary treatment programme.
He would have six months left of his prison sentence but the treatment
programme is for a year, so he is obliged to stay for the first
six months, or he would be returned to prison. Then of course,
he should remain for the whole period, but the last part of it
is voluntary and he cannot be stopped from leaving the treatment
facility. The criminal justice system, or the prison, pays for
the first part and the second part is paid for by the municipality.
1539. Are you saying that if a judge gives somebody
two years' imprisonment, the moment that that person gets to prison,
it is possible that the authorities could transfer him or her
into another place, being a treatment centre?
(Mr Löfstedt) Yes.