The size of a country’s police force is of great public and political concern. In the 2006 national election campaign the opposition coalition promised that if they would be elected the number of police officers in Sweden would increase from about 17 500 to 20 000 by the year 2010. The coalition was elected and the political goal was achieved. The main question in this report is: What impact will such an increase of the number of police officers have on the crime rate?
In this report previous research, mainly from the United States, is reviewed and thoroughly analyses of the relationship between police strength and domestic burglary, robbery, homicide and car related offences in Sweden are made. The data consists of a random sample of 145 municipalities studied between the years 2001 and 2008. A complementary data set consists of all 21 police forces in Sweden between 1995 and 2009. Through panel data analysis it is concluded that an increase of the local police by 10 percent would possibly reduce domestic burglary by 3 to 4 percent. No impact is found on robbery, car theft or homicide, however. More police officers also means that more drug offences are being registered and more crimes in general being cleared-up.
The allocation of police officers is also briefly investigated in this study. About 30 percent of all police officers in Sweden are allocated to Stockholm County. This proportion has been fairly stable over the last 15 years. However, the population in this metropolitan area has increase by 20 percent since 1995, compared to about 3 percent in the rest of the country. One consequence is that the surplus of police officers per capita in Stockholm in relation to the number of officers per capita in the rest of the country has decreased substantially.
Växjö: Linnaeus University Press, 2011. , 59 p.