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article imageDenmark to double penalty for crimes in trouble hotspots

By AFP     Feb 26, 2018 in World

The Danish government said Monday it was looking to reduce crime in trouble hotspots by doubling the punishment for offences committed there compared with other areas of the country.

Plans to introduce a scale of punishment for crime in so-called "ghetto areas", deprived areas with a high immigrant population, will be unveiled on Thursday by Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen as part of a wider plan of action for such places.

The specific crimes which will command a double punishment have yet to be agreed on but in an interview with the Berlingske Tidende newspaper, Justice Minister Soren Pape Poulsen suggested it could involve "vandalism, theft and threats."

"In these areas, it is clear that the sword of justice will fall more heavily" than elsewhere, said the minister, who heads Denmark's Conservative party.

The paper quoted police statistics saying that in 2017, only 63 percent of Danes living in such areas felt safe, compared with 72 percent a year earlier.

By comparison, the nationwide figures stood at 79 percent and 81 percent respectively.

Denmark first introduced a list of so-called "ghetto areas" in 2010 highlighting deprived areas with a population of more than 1,000 residents.

In December, the ministry of transport and housing published a new list of 22 so-called "ghetto areas" -- the lowest number since the list was first unveiled.

Speaking to Berlingske, Rasmussen said the aim was to have "no more ghettos by 2030".

"Too great a proportion" of immigrants "are concentrated in a small number of neighbourhoods", he told the paper.

He said their behaviour differed from that of the "average Dane" on all levels: "in meeting their own needs, their level of education, their command of language, their values."

But Keld Albrechtsen, who runs a local association, said the changes "could hit youngsters who are on a path to delinquency."

"I don't think what they need is more repression. They need someone to help them get out," he told Denmark's BT tabloid.

To push the changes through, the centre-right coalition is likely to win the backing of the opposition Social Democrats who earlier this month presented their own proposals for slashing the number of "non-Western" foreigners allowed into the EU member state, Berlingske said.

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