When the police authority a few years ago identified over 50 areas that needed prioritising, it was turned into a story about 'no-go zones' in Sweden. There is no such thing, says local police chief Erik Åkerlund.

Three of those areas can be found in Botkyrka, south of Stockholm, where Erik Åkerlund is the local police chief. To him, prioritising in this way was a sensible, "mature" thing to do.
"In all cities in western Europe, you can find the questions like we found in these 53 areas. So you have to prioritise. I think it is a mature thing to do," he told Radio Sweden.

"For me it is more like 'go-go zones', it is where we work," he said

Erik Åkerlund was therefore much surprised in 2014 when he read a column by Per Gudmundson in the newspaper Svenska Dagbladet with the headline "55 no-go zones in Sweden." 

The police do not use the term 'no-go zones,' but Gudmundson argued it was a good way to describe a place where, quoting the report, "the public in several instances feel that it is the criminals who run the areas" and where "police cannot carry out their job."

The term 'no-go zones' quickly caught on, and it continues to do the rounds in social media today. But Erik Åkerlund thinks this is not a serious way of describing the work they do in the prioritised areas. 
He has seen examples from elsewhere in Europe, where police actually do seem to look upon certain areas as no-go zones. But this is very far from the work in the vulnerable areas in Sweden, said Åkerlund.
The advantage of having defined some areas as particularly vulnerable is that it has meant a significant rise in resources, said Erik Åkerlund. Today, there are twice as many police officers on the beat in Botkyrka compared to only a year and a half ago.

Listen to the full interview in English with police chief Åkerlund by clicking on the play button above.