In 2017 it became obvious that our country is facing a ‘new normal’, with a growing extremist scene, an increased intelligence threat and inadequate protective security measures. This situation is described in the Swedish Security Service’s 2017 Yearbook, published on 22 February.
The security situation has deteriorated and the threats to Sweden are greater now than they have been for many years.
"We are now facing a ‘new normal’, just like the rest of Europe, and these developments give cause for concern", says Charlotte von Essen, Acting Head of the Swedish Security Service.
Several incidents in 2017 highlighted the Service’s remit, especially the terrorist attack in central Stockholm and the Swedish Transport Agency’s non-compliance with protective security legislation.
Also, the extremist scene monitored by the Service continues to grow, having increased from a few hundred individuals to thousands in only a few years. Every other day the Service handles information where named individuals have threatened to carry out attacks in Sweden.
Alongside this, the threat from foreign powers is also on the increase.
"Our complex remit of keeping Sweden safe by preventing, preempting and averting threats, has never been wider. Fulfilling this remit requires not only good cooperation with other public agencies, in Sweden and abroad, but also well-functioning and modern legislation", says Charlotte von Essen.
The challenges posed by this ‘new normal’ will have an impact also in the run-up to the general elections in September. The Service’s preparations to ensure safe and secure elections began already in 2016 and continued throughout 2017. This work, which will intensify as the elections draw nearer, involves staff from all the Service’s areas of operation, from close protection officers and security drivers working closely with politicians, to analysts and desk officers producing the threat assessments underpinning protective measures.
"We seek to ensure that our protectees in Central Government can carry out their tasks safely and securely. This is a cornerstone of democracy", says Susanna Trehörning, the Service’s Strategic Commander in charge of safeguarding the elections.
Extensive efforts are also underway to ensure that neither election campaigns nor election results can be manipulated by foreign powers.
"The Swedish election system is robust, decentralised and manual, and therefore difficult to manipulate. The election results will be genuine. However, this doesn’t come for free, and we have taken, and will take, a number of measures to safeguard the elections", says Susanna Trehörning.