They have become Copenhagen’s most serious criminal problem, increasing their share of police statistics for violence, threats, burglaries and muggings year by year. Gangs of young immigrants are climbing the criminal ladder, and the police predict they will challenge biker gangs as the masters of organized crime in Denmark in a few years.
“We see increasing signs of street gangs popping up and becoming more professional in night box robberies, drug dealing, serious threats and vendettas,” Troels Ørting Jørgensen, head of the State Police National Intelligence Center (NEC), told daily newspaper Jyllands-Posten. “It has surpassed anything we can call street crime.”
Copenhagen Police Commissioner Hanne Bech Hansen said the development was a cause for concern.
“Our biggest crime problem at this time stems from maladjusted, young criminals of foreign descent,” Hansen said. “They are much too conspicuous in the statistics, which is something we need to react to right now. Otherwise we’ll have a serious crime problem, which will affect the town for the next two or three decades.”
She said 82 percent of youngsters who were brought before a judge in Copenhagen last year were of foreign descent.
Police commissioners in Odense and Elsinore said they had noticed the same tendencies in their districts.
“When we are on police business, young people assemble in large numbers and with very violent behaviour,” Elsinore Police Commissioner Ole Scharf said. “Last week we organized a police raid in Kokkedal, and in few minutes 50 people had gathered, screaming abuse at the policemen.”
Young criminals of foreign descent are usually well networked and operate in communities that are almost entirely closed off to the police and other authorities.
“They’re hard to investigate, because nobody will tell us anything,” NEC’s Jørgensen said. “They’re very cynical, but the most dangerous people are actually not those driving around in gangster-style BMWs and provocating. The criminals are not conspicuous, but when they give an order, they get obeyed, no matter if it’s violence, vendettas or robberies. They’re no better than the bikers.”
NEC is now investigating whether the gangs operate in a system, where youngsters take orders from older, but more secretive criminals.