No relief for the Eastern Police District

Police chief Steven Hasseldal was visited Prime Minister Erna Solberg, who wanted to hear what the status is in the Eastern Police District. The police district has experienced major challenges after the introduction of the police reform. Photo: Tore Meek / NTB scanpix

No emergency relief for the Eastern Police District

Prime Minister Erna Solberg (Conservatives) tells the Eastern Police Districts to get a grip and solve the major problems that have arisen with the introduction of the Norwegian police reform.


– This has been a meeting to listen and learn, says Solberg, who went to the Follo Police in Ski on Wednesday to hear more about how the Eastern Police District has addressed the challenges related to the introduction of the police reform.

A month ago, the alarm bells tolled: It became known that the Police District has a backlog of more than 7,000 criminal cases, a 50 per cent increase from before the police reform came into effect. The number of criminal cases older than one year has been tripled since the introduction of the police reform, while none of 150 reported rape cases that the police district has received has been processed within the 130-day deadline.

Must shape up

After the disclosure, the Attorney General took action and sent letters to the Eastern Police District. They, in short, emphasise that the situation can not persist.

– Must the Eastern Police District shape up?

– Yes, it has been given very clear notice that the processing time has to decrease, says the Prime Minister to NTB.

The police chief in the Eastern Police District, Steven Hasseldal, emphasises that a tight financial framework is an important reason for the problems. In short, there has been too little money and too much reform, something the Prime Minister was told to her face at Wednesday’s meeting.

– The budget is so tight that in order to balance the finances, we have to leave 125 positions vacant, he says.

At the same time, the number of sexual offences and rapes has exploded. Among other cases, hundreds of children are involved in two network abuse cases.

– It has been staggering, says Hasseldal.

No helping hand

But a helping hand in the form of more funding, the Prime Minister will not promise to provide. Next year, police helicopters and the emergency response centre will consume large parts of the pie.

“This means that next year is not a year when there will be very high operating appropriations for the police, says Solberg, pointing out that it is the Police Directorate that distributes the resources to the individual police districts.

The Eastern Police District covers the counties of Østfold and Akershus, with the exception of Asker and Bærum, and is the country’s second largest in terms of population. In addition, the police district is responsible for the border control at Gardermoen and large tracts of the border with Sweden.

Handling old cases

At the same time, the district is now trying to finish as many old cases as humanly possible.

– We have reduced the backlog by 400-500 cases, Hasseldal states.

Solberg, who has previously visited several other police districts to keep up-to-date on the progress of the police reform, also finds reasons to praise the Eastern Police District.

– They currently have the highest rate of solved cases in Norway, she points out, not saying how many of those has just been swept under the carpet.


© NTB scanpix / #Norway Today