Residents of the Swedish city of Oskarshamn will now have the option to be accompanied by armed police officers while out jogging.
Oskarshamn police inspector Peter Karlsson said the programme was designed to ease the insecurities of those who wish to go jogging after dark. Karlsson, who came up with the idea for the programme, said police would form jogging groups and all those who were interested in joining the officers were welcome, SVT reports.
“We will adjust the pace entirely to those who come,” Karlsson said, noting the officers would jog as well as walk with residents who wanted to join.
Karlsson said that he had heard of many residents feeling insecure in the city: “It does not happen so much here, but people are influenced by events around the world and feel unsafe when it’s dark.”
The police inspector’s comments mirror a report from 2016 which stated that close to half of women in Sweden felt “very unsafe” at night alone in Swedish cities. According to the report, conducted by newspaper Aftonbladet, a further 43 per cent felt uncomfortable in Swedish cities even in the daytime.
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The issue is particularly bad in troubled heavily migrant-populated suburbs which are often labelled no-go zones. A survey conducted by the Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention (Brå) claimed that around half of the residents of problem areas were too afraid to leave their homes in the evenings.
Brå has expressed support for Karlsson’s jogging programme, as has the municipal government in Oskarshamn.
Karlsson said the officers will be carrying handcuffs as well as weapons as they jog with residents. “We have tried and found a vest that we can fix the equipment to and that works to run in,” he said.
As Sweden’s violent crime rate has increasingly become the centre of national attention, more and more unorthodox solutions to the problems have been proposed. Last month, members of the Moderate Party even proposed deploying the military in no-go areas to aid police.