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Sexual Crimes Unit to be Expanded

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Sexual Crimes Unit to be Expanded

Police

Photo: Páll Stefánsson.

The Icelandic police force’s Sexual Crimes Unit will be expanding nationwide, RÚV reports. According to a plan released by the Attorney General and Ministry of Justice on Friday, the equivalent of 15 full-time positions are soon to be added to the department. More than 3,600 sexual offenses have been reported to the police since 2010, more than 2,000 of which took place in the capital area.

According to Svala Ísfeld Ólafsdóttir, a law professor at Reykjavík University who has been hired by the Ministry to see this new action plan through, the goal is to improve the way that victims are treated by and within the legal system and increase their rights regarding access to information.

In addition to increasing the staff of the Sexual Crimes Unit, the Attorney General’s plan also calls for more staff in the district attorney’s office, more specialized refresher courses and retraining for existing staff, and better investigative tools and policy when it comes to how sexual crimes are investigated by police. The police will receive an additional ISK 237 million [$2,358,150] to implement these changes and improvements.

Six of the new staff placements will be located within the capital area, where the majority of sexual crimes are being reported. It’s hoped that additional staff will help reduce how long the court process takes. It’s also been proposed that the role of victims’ legal representation should be strengthened, and that their involvement in sexual crimes cases be guaranteed from the start, when victims are admitted to, or make contact with, crisis centers. Mental health services will also be offered to both victims and perpetrators.

“You could say, really, that this is an answer to the community’s call for the improved treatment of these cases, not least improved relations with, and attitudes towards, victims—increasing their rights, particularly autonomous right to information...” says Svala.

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