Senior Danish police officers are complaining that the EU’s open borders under the Schengen agreement have made it simple for criminal groups to smuggle weapons and women into Denmark.
“The Schengen agreement has made it much easier to move weapons around Europe and to get them into Denmark. This is a problem as crime becomes much more serious when weapons are involved,” says Henrik Svindt of the Copenhagen Special Unit for Gang Crime and Women Traficking.
The issue of how to stop weapons and women smuggling into Denmark has risen on the Danish political agenda after the Social Democratic Party recently suggested stricter border controls. The Danish People’s Party has demanded for some time that border controls should be introduced.
DOCUMENTATION: What is the Schengen area? (External link)
Svindt is not prepared to say whether border controls should be re-introduced, but notes that the parties to the current gang warfare in Denmark are able to get hold of AK47 and Uzi automatic weapons with ease. The weapons are often smuggled to Denmark from the Balkans and Eastern Europe.
The National Commissioner’s Office has confiscated more than 170 weapons over the past two months, although it is not clear how they got into the country.
Svindt says the current situation cannot be compared to the situation before borders were opened in 2001.
“Criminals used to bash each other up. Now there is a tendency that criminals are more willing to use firearms,” Svindt says.
The Head of Copenhagen Police Women’s Trafficking Unit René Hansen says human traffickers hardly need to speculate on how to get women into Denmark.
“Once the prostitutes are in the Schengen area, it’s easy to send them up here – and that is, of course, a problem,” Hansen says, adding that Denmark has many trafficked women from Eastern Europe and Africa.
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“We should increase searches of buses from Eastern Europe – then we can find the girls who don’t have the necessary papers. Traffickers will always try to send women to Denmark – so we try to catch the traffickers. But in principle it would be better to try to prevent the women from coming here, rather than letting them come in and then investigating them to stop the traffic,” Hansen says.
The National Commissioner’s Office policy, however, is not to increase border controls, but rather to try to catch those behind the traffic in women and weapons.
“But if senior police officers feel that it would be an idea to increase controls buses from Eastern Europe, then they can do so. It’s their decision,” says Justice Minister Brian Mikkelsen.
Edited by Julian Isherwood