The following op-ed by a Norwegian policeman was posted at a Norwegian blog after its original publication in Haugesunds Avis as a letter to the editor. Many thanks to Our Norwegian correspondent The Observer for the translation.
The translator includes this introductory note:
I know Haugesund well, and remember when it was a wonderful little town. Safe, clean, with friendly locals. The last time I went back was about fifteen years ago. The place was completely ruined. Asylum seekers and Muslims all over the place. I wonder what it’s like now. How sad, how unnecessary.
By Police Inspector Thomas Utne Pettersen, Haugesund
On the 22 of July, 2016, Haugesunds Avis (Haugesund News) published an article in which a philosopher was pondering the xenophobia of Norwegian citizens, and what he describes as a colder and more cynical society. The philosopher was speculating about the background for this.
The author of this letter is of the opinion that Norway, as a rich country, has an ethical and moral obligation to help displaced individuals. However, I do not agree with the assertion that skepticism towards refugees and asylum seekers should be viewed as an expression of cynicism.
The public’s xenophobia in relation to this group is highly rational and justified, and I will try to show this by relying on both local and national examples.
Here are some examples from my own precinct;
A random (normal) week in 2016 may serve as an example:
Monday: Three men from the Middle East are in police custody — they have been charged with drug offenses. One of the individuals has been permanently expelled from Norway due to previous convictions, which include violations of immigration and narcotics laws. The second individual received his second conviction for robbery a few weeks earlier. The third individual has a string of previous convictions, but has managed to become a Norwegian citizen — after only a short stay in Norway.
Tuesday: Two more individuals are in police custody, arrested after being found in the possession of considerable quantity of amphetamines in their car. Both have prior convictions and are foreign nationals.
Thursday: Three individuals are in police custody for stabbings — two are foreigners.
During week 30, the author arrested three more individuals with foreign backgrounds — two of them have numerous prior convictions for serious integrity violations, including robbery. One of them, a man of foreign descent in his thirties, is on a disability pension — the second individual, an Iraqi citizen in his twenties, is on welfare benefits and has been granted political asylum.
During 2015 the author was responsible for numerous of detainees. The combined number of custody days totaled 2,600 — of these, 2,200 involved of men of foreign origin.
A number of rapes
Asylum seekers have in recent years committed numerous rapes in ‘tiny’ Haugesund.
The latest incident occurred this summer when an Afghan asylum seeker was convicted of raping a Norwegian child. Haugesunds Avis reported earlier this spring about another incident in which three Syrian asylum seekers were charged with the rape of two Norwegian children.
When the politicians attempted last summer to outbid each other about how many refugees and asylum seekers Norway should accept, they clearly knew — provided that they are more or less reality-oriented — that this would lead to more rapes and other serious integrity violations.
Women and children are sacrificed on the altar of the asylum and refugee department.
So what should a philosopher tell these individuals? What should the public be told? That their fears are unjustified? I sincerely hope that politicians or philosophers never get to experience firsthand the consequences of their own political beliefs and their own policies. They tolerate an injustice that does not affect themselves.
At a national level the figures are equally disturbing.
In March 2014, thirty percent of inmates at Ullersmo (high-security prison) were individuals of foreign origin. In March 2014 approximately thirty-three percent of all individuals remanded in custody were foreigners.
In March 2016, fifty percent of all inmates at Ullersmo were foreigners. In most other areas of society, such a significant increase would have led to demands of investigation and targeted action.
But not in Norway. Statisticians believe that the image is skewed, due to the fact that the comparison is made with the general population, and not with young Norwegian males in a similar situation.
At least we are able to conclude that approximately eighty percent of those who applied for political asylum in Norway during the autumn of 2015 were young men — and that these are a high-risk group as far as crime is concerned.
A survey from Oslo shows that nine out of ten individuals who were convicted of violence against children come from immigrant backgrounds. Some individuals are baffled that the number is so high.
The author is not surprised — on the contrary, unbiased facts corroborate my own personal subjective experiences. In regards to domestic violence, eighty-nine judgments have been handed down in the last three years in the Oslo District Court, in which eighty-two of the defendants came from immigrant backgrounds.
Society and police spend enormous resources on investigating this type of crime committed by foreigners.
The author is interested in fighting crime — and one of the most important measures that Norway can take to reduce overall crime is to limit immigration. Thus, I am amazed when I through my own personal observations have noted that this factor is hardly ever mentioned in the media or among politicians when they attempt to outdo each other discussing the number of asylum seekers and refugees that Norway should accept.
In an attempt to show “firmness”, the politicians claim that only those who are entitled to asylum should be allowed to stay, and all the other repatriated. This shows either a lack of understanding of how the asylum system actually works, or, alternatively a deliberate obfuscation of reality. I do not know which is worse.
The problem is that clients residing in asylum centers who have been served with repatriation orders mostly hail from countries we are unable to repatriate to, while people hailing from countries to which we repatriate disappear from the asylum centers by the thousands (Repatriation Analysis 2015).
In 2014 it was estimated that only 39 percent of rejected asylum seekers were sent out of the EU. There is no reason to believe that that figure is any higher today.
Everyday crime is being neglected
The investigation of serious crime requires significant resources — the investigation often have to deal with new confusing environments. The point is that everyday crime is being neglected. Also, resource-intensive cases — such as fraud/finance cases — are shelved due to lack of processing capacity. This can be very harmful to legitimate businesses.
The constitutional state’s guarantors are not able to meet the public’s expectations, because we are busy investigating other crimes committed by foreign nationals. This reduces the effectiveness of the police services.
In Sweden, the health authorities have gone on record and stated that the health services provided to the general Swedish public have been reduced because of migration. According to media reports, Swedish police have been prohibiting from commenting on such issues. The latter seems to be a bad idea.
New Year’s Eve celebrations in Cologne were marked by several serious incidents and with reports of over 2,000 aggrieved women. The police were criticized for attempting to cover up the sexual abuse and the perpetrators’ countries of origin.
This secrecy is in my personal opinion a betrayal of the public. The public has a right to know the challenges the police face — and last but not least, who commits most of the crime.
Up until now, Norway and its police force have to some extent managed to deal with the situation, but if the migration continues as in 2015, we will, in my opinion, reach a breaking point.
Is not about lack of will
When certain individuals hint that the rate of solved cases and the quality of the investigation have to go up, and the processing time has to go down, they join the ranks of a public and politicians who have expectations that the police are unable to fulfill. This has nothing to do about unwillingness on the part of the police, but simply that the expectations are unrealistic.
The gap between reality as it is experienced by those of us who work with this type of crime every day, and those who are far removed from it, is now so large that something must be done to make the public aware of it.
In media reports we are told about incidents and seizures at asylum centers that would tend to indicate that some asylum seekers are affiliated with ISIS — and who are now residing in Norway. This must surely be very disturbing for the public to find out — and this fear shouldn’t be described as cold and cynical.
The philosopher believes that the welfare state is not threatened and that Norway can “afford” to welcome all asylum seekers and refugees.
The aforementioned Iraqi citizen will (for the second time) be subject to an attempted expulsion from Norway by the police because of his criminal activities. This individual has already cost Norwegian taxpayers millions.
The reality defies one’s imagination
There is currently no provision in the legislation that prevents foreigners expelled from Norway, because of their criminality, from receiving their disability pensions abroad. The reality defies ones imagination.
After having contributed minimally to the Norwegian treasury, criminals can still receive their disability allowances even if they are expelled as a result of extensive serious crime.
Thus, criminals on disability pensions can live very comfortably abroad on Norwegian tax money — is that sustainable?
I would like to challenge our local parliamentarians: should we not have a law that denies deportees their social security benefits?
Legal protection, the welfare state, safety and our egalitarian societies are under strain — without a major contributing factor being adequately discussed: crime committed by foreigners, including asylum seekers. What worries me most of all is that so few people are concerned.
(The author of the letter, Thomas Utne Pettersen, is a Police Inspector of the Southwestern Police District, but in this letter expresses his own personal views.)