Evaluation of the Sexual Crimes Group in North Stockholm

English summary of report 2021:7

In 2019, the North Stockholm Police District set up a special investigation team, the Sexual Crimes Group, which only investigates rape cases. This evaluation studies whether the introduction of Group has led to better investigative work in rape cases.

Key findings in the study

Brå assesses that the organisational model with a specialised rape unit has worked well in the police district of North Stockholm. The Sexual Crimes Group process their cases more rapidly and their investigations are of a higher quality than was previously the case. The proportion of cases assessed to be over-investigated has increased somewhat but is still small (6 percent of the cases examined).

Brå can see several advantages of specialisation: The investigators are motivated and the group builds up competence and effective procedures, and the same investigator is responsible for a case from start to finish. This guarantees investigative work of a consistently high quality.

The fact that the Sexual Crimes Group only investigates rape cases also means that time and energy is ring-fenced for these crimes, i.e. a real increase in resources compared with previously. Additionally, resources have increased since the group was introduced and more investigators have been employed. Brå assesses that the improvements in quality and speed are also due to the increase in resources and not solely due to specialisation.

The proportion of cases finally reported to the prosecution office has increased somewhat but not much more than in similar police districts. There is still some scope for improvement but Brå considers that a marked increase in the proportion of cases finally reaching prosecutors cannot be expected considering the nature of the cases and because there are factors that impact on outcomes which are difficult for the investigating unit to influence.

Brå considers that legal rights for victims in rape cases have improved since the introduction of the Sexual Crimes Group, above all through more robust investigations. Certain quality aspects are also positive for suspects, including better documentation and investigations being conducted more quickly. However, defence counsels and prosecutors see a risk of shortcomings in objectivity which could be negative for suspects. Brå considers that the risk of a loss of objectivity should continue to be borne in mind.

Thus, specialisation has worked well in North Stockholm, but it cannot be taken as an indication that this is an organisational model which would suit all police districts. Local conditions must decide where rape cases are investigated in organisational terms. However, some lessons learned from the development efforts in North Stockholm should be able to be transferred to districts where a specialised group cannot be introduced or where different organisational models are chosen.

About the study

In autumn 2019, Brå was asked to evaluate the Sexual Crimes Group by the Stockholm police region. The overarching purpose of the evaluation is to investigate whether the introduction of the Sexual Crimes Group has led to better investigative work in rape cases handled within the North Stockholm police district. The questions the project asks are:

  • Has the introduction of the Sexual Crimes Group led to shorter investigation times and a higher proportion of cases reported to the prosecutors in North Stockholm?
  • Has the quality of the investigations increased since the introduction of the Sexual Crimes Group?
  • What is the experience of actors in the legal process and victims of suspected rape of the work of the Sexual Crimes Group?

Background

In September 2019, the North Stockholm Police District set up a special investigation team, the Sexual Crimes Group, which only investigates rape cases.1 The group is part of a regional development project on the handling of sexual crime cases. Previously, many rape cases were investigated by the Serious Crime sections (Grova brott) but were often down-prioritised due to a high influx of other serious crimes, such as gang-related shootings, resulting in long investigation times and a high backlog of cases. The purpose of the Sexual Crimes Group is thus to reduce investigation times and simultaneously improve the quality of rape investigations. A further purpose was to achieve an increase in the proportion of cases that were finally reported to the prosecution office.

Since the Sexual Crimes Group was introduced, the majority of rape cases in the police district of North Stockholm have now been investigated in the same place instead of being spread across eight teams in two sections for serious crimes, the section for crime in close relationships (Brott i nära relation, BINR) and different local police districts. The fact that the group only investigates rape cases provides a protected space to concentrate on these investigations. The investigators in the group have applied to work there and bring a variety of previous experience and skills to their role. The number of investigators has increased since the group began from 11 to 17, which means an increase in resources compared with before the group was set up.

Fakta om publikationen

Författare: Mona Backhans, Anna Horgby and Lars Lewenhagen

© Brottsförebyggande rådet 2021

urn:nbn:se:bra-990

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