Police in Norway and the (mis)reading of stats

Today there was an article in the Norwegian newspaper VG on how many new police officers the various parties want to educate over the next few years. Since we have an upcoming election in September, the politicians is climbing over oneanother to promise more police, better care for the elderly, less taxes, better hospitals, cheap or free child care etc, all the things they think will win over more voters come elections.

When reading the article the Venstre politician Odd Einar Dørum stated that we need to educate more police to reach the goal of 2 police officers per 1000 capita in Norway. I wondered about his number for a moment, and decided to check its validity according to other statistical data.

According to Nationmaster.com and the criminal statistics there, we have already reached this goal. Norway resides as # 27 – indicating that we already have 2,42 police officers per 1000 persons.

The "best" regarding police vs. capita

The "best" regarding police vs. capita

When clicking on Norway in the stats you will find an overview of the police efficiency and how satisfied people are with the overall police service in Norway. Reading these numbers, the population seems to be very happy with the police, the way policing is done in Norway and how the politicians generally are running the police. See the image below for more info:

Good stats for the police, but are they true?

Good stats for the police, but are they true?

Anyone in Norway has noticed that the police in Norway has had a conflict with their employer over the last year, dramatically reducing efficiency, discovery and solving rates for crime and overall presence in society, and these stats (although old) seem odd. Was things really that different back then? If the goal of the number of police was reached in 2000, why make a big fuzz about educating more now?

A wise man one said: There are lies, damn lies and statistics. I have to agree, you can read these statistics any way you want. We rank very well on most, if not all of them, ban the Software piracy rate (29%) indicating that we are generally a safe and non criminal society. In many ways I think we are, but we are on a downward spiral in that respect, and I think its time to really do something about it. Educating more officers is fine, but the police need a huge increase in money and equipment to withstand the flood of crime coming to our shores shortly, especially from the eastern European states, now opening up through the EU cooperation and free travel within Europe.

Dear politicians, please think big when it comes to crime prevention!

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4 Responses to “Police in Norway and the (mis)reading of stats”

  1. The plummer:) Says:

    There are 6000 police officers that is approved for working on the streets in Norway, and about 11000 in total. According to wikipedia there are 4 799 300 people in Norway. What answer did you get:)

  2. BlingYou Says:

    According to the 2000 statistics there are 11,134 but the Politiforbundet (pf.no) has stated that there are about 10 000 approved and active officers in Norway. My point being that statistics can be bent either way. If the PF nubers are correct, we have 1 officer in 479 people, so its more than 2 per 1000, if the statistics are right we have 1 in 439 and if your number of 6000 on the streets is correct its 1 in 799. I don’t know who has the correct number here, but in my opinion there is not enough of them. Having traveled all over the world and seen the police presence in the streets there, we are coming up short. Our country is changing, to the worse I’m afraid, crime wise -- and there is an urgent need to beef up and prepare to be swarmed with criminals wanting to prey on gullible Norwegians.

  3. Morten Says:

    I am a policeofficer in Norway. I am one of those who work in active patrol duty. These are the ones that Dørum wants more of. There are about 10 000 approved operative officers, but only 4 500 of them actually work out in the streets (according to their work-plan). The rest of the employees are doing investigations, intelligence, administration…

    -- yes, investigators, under-cover agents, crime scene technicians and so on are also approved operative officers. This means they can arm themselves and join armed operations.

    So -- if you take 4 500 officers, divided with 4 800 000 people -- you have the answer.

    But -- I dont care actually. I am just waiting to quit. I have 6 weeks left and looking forward to a paid job. The policeduty in Norway aint worth it. Low payment, Media harrasment, and no “down to earth” opinions among the public… I am filled up with naive norwegians. Naivism and policework dont fit together.

    Now I look forward to triple my salery (I probably need to work a bit more -- but I will have much more freedom to when and where I have to work…).

    I send my best regards to all my fellow colleagues in the norwegian policeforce. Keep up the good work! I am proud of you!

  4. BlingYou Says:

    I think we will go with your numbers then, since you have first hand knowledge of the actual number of in-the-field police officers. Even though technicians, radio operators, investigators and so on are trained at the academy, they will not to the same extent do the hands on police work that is noticed and needed on the streets.

    One of the huge problems in most societies, and I know this for a fact, is that the government have a tendency to pay persons with a desire and drive for their job less than what would be considered “decent”. Emergency room nurses and doctors earn less than others with the same education working in more boring or less challenging conditions. The employer knows that they will get people to work there anyway, because the work is interesting, exiting and demanding. I guess its the same with police officers. You do not become a police officer to be rich, very few become rich, but you do expect to be paid reasonable -- at least enough to live, eat and drive relatively well.

    Unfortunately I do not think that is the case in Norway and many other countries. Police officers are usually driven, in the positive sense of the word, to do this work and have a moral compass that makes them want to help others, improve the lives of someone, help people in peril, change the outcome of things -- but they also want to be paid a reasonable salary for their time. Being a police officer, much like being a doctor, a fireman, a nurse, a teacher is something you ARE not only something you DO.

    Its sad that police officers like yourself Morten is quitting to pursue other careers, as the country needs all the hands that it can get to combat the growing wave of crime that we have only just seen the beginning of. I do wish you luck in your future endeavors and I guess the police will always be something to come back to, should the new job prove to tedious and uneventful. Good luck!

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