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Drug investigators became the first police doctor

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full screen Police officers Mia Maria Magnusson, PhD in criminology. Photo: Pontus Lundahl / TT

Former drug detective Mia-Maria Magnusson recently became Sweden’s first police doctor.

The result: a method for predicting the shooting locations.

In his thesis, he maps open drug scenes in the Stockholm region, around 50 locations where drug sales are openly going on.

– Where there is open drug trafficking, there is also a higher concentration of shootings. It’s in the same places, not only, but to a large extent, Mia-Maria Magnusson tells TT.

By studying each of the areas at the micro level in terms of, for example, the occupancy rate, age, overcrowding and ethnicity of the residents and combining this with the crime rate in each locality, he developed a model for being in able to predict where future shootings would occur.

– The model was able to predict the locations of 61% of the shootings in the Stockholm region in 2021.

That doesn’t mean the police could have prevented the shootings if the model had been available, he points out.

– But it gives us the opportunity to gather strength more precisely: where are the worst areas or which areas are to come, where do we need to work more?

TT: What do you think in your thesis provides the most practical advantage?

– I have collected a lot of facts about these places, which makes the analysis better. If you haven’t done a proper analysis, you won’t have the right measurements.

“Fires out”

After working as a police officer for more than 15 years, she was tired of “just putting out fires,” as she puts it.

– I’ve worked in a rather expensive business, the reconnaissance business, and I’ve heard that we do a lot of the same things here, over and over again, but we don’t know if the effects are good or bad, says Mia-Maria Magnusson.

There was never time for evaluation due to the continuous influx of new serious crimes. Sure, she was involved in solving many crimes, but was it with the most effective methods?

– There is a lot in police operations that has not been studied. The police have a great need to be efficient: the budget is tight, we have a growing problem with shootings, says Mia-Maria Magnusson.

When she told her boss she intended to leave her post as a police officer to start the search, she was the first police officer in Sweden to have the opportunity to do a doctorate during working hours. The salary came from the police and the Malmö University guide.

Try to measure

In another part of the dissertation, consider what the police call motivational conversations with people suspected of drug offenses. The talks are held in the hope that crime suspects will seek help and treatment for their addiction and be part of the crime prevention work.

But in his dissertation he shows that those who received motivational conversations relapsed into drug crime to the same extent as those who did not participate in such conversations. Perhaps conversations can be useful for building relationships and gaining information, but they don’t give the effect that the idea is, she says.

– This is what you have to do with a lot of things inside the police: try, measure, base the evidence, says Mia-Maria Magnusson.


Open drug scenes

The thesis maps 48 locations in the Stockholm region that could be classified as open drug scenes in 2017.

The vast majority are located near or right next to subway stations or commuter train stations.

Most have been placed for drug sales for a long time.

The places are characterized by a high incidence of crime. In 70% of open drug scenes in the Stockholm region, at least one shooting occurred in 2017.

Drug scenes have a strong impact on the environment. Places are perceived as dangerous.

Source: “Open Drug Scenes and the Fusion of Police Practice and Research”, dissertation by Mia-Maria Magnusson, University of Malmö

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Published: March 21, 2022 at 11.33