What its Like to Be a Social Worker in Sweden – Death Threats and Intimidation

“They threatened to cut my throat”

Gustav was threatened with murder several times during the ten years he worked as a social secretary, including when he investigated children who were harmed. Still, he was denied a secret address. – I have been told that they want to cut my throat. They have threatened to come to my house, they have said they will shoot me. Of course, it feels difficult, especially if it comes from people in environments where I know that there are firearms and violent capital, says Gustav Södling.

Today he works at a supportive housing for young people in Linköping, where he has experienced fewer threats. He faced the most serious threats in his role as social secretary in cases where the authority had to consider involuntary care of children. – I met people in town who run after and scream, that feels very threatening. If they then said that they should come to my house and I know that in a few seconds they can find my address, then I have no protection, says Gustav.

Lack of resources increases the risk

He thinks he has good conversations with colleagues about threatening situations. He has an alarm that he can carry with him, and at meetings that can feel uncomfortable, the rule is to always be two colleagues. But he sees that lack of resources increases the risk of threatening situations: – If there is more time to build a relationship and explain decisions, it will be easier. If there is pressure, you may have to be two at certain meetings. It has happened to me in the social services. Then it goes beyond my mind and my safety.

Gustav has on one occasion applied for just protected personal data, but received no from the Tax Agency. – I understood that their argument was that nothing had happened yet, so there was no need for a secret address, he says.

Wants the threatened to get more help

In the debate on gang crime, the National Unit against Organized Crime recently raised increased secrecy regarding matters concerning, for example, young people who may end up in crime, that today’s openness can counteract brave decisions. Gustav, who is a trade union activist and safety representative, thinks changes in the principle of openness are a major intervention. He believes in the responsibility of civil servants, and that every decision can be linked to those responsible, but that those threatened should receive more help. – I can not be anonymous in my job. But it is good if a manager agrees with the decisions. And if you want help with protection of certain personal information about family or address, you should get it.

Source: SVT

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