Exemplifying the overrepresentation of immigrant youth, Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen stressed that every fifth young man with a non-Western background born in 1997 had broken the law before he turned 21 years old.
Following a speech by Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen in which she specifically addressed the problem of “anti-social behaviour” by youths with an immigrant background, the Danish government has outlined a plan to tackle this issue.
A 2019 report by the Danish Centre for Social Science Research (VIVE) found that children and young people from underprivileged housing areas commit crimes more often than their peers. The police had suspicions against them three times more often than the national average.
People from immigrant backgrounds who are tempted by crime must make a choice about their part in society, Immigration Minister Mattias Tesfaye said. Tesfaye further dwelled on the government’s position, envisaging this choice in stark terms.
“This choice doesn’t need more well-meaning integration projects. The choice takes five minutes, and it is yours”, Tesfaye said, as quoted by Danish Radio.
To tackle youth crime and anti-social behaviour, the Danish government has presented four specific measures, which include easier eviction of tenants convicted of crimes, nightlife curfews for people with convictions for violence, assembly bans in specified areas for set periods of time, and on-the-spot confiscation of valuables from persons with unpaid debts to the state.
Tesfaye specifically singled out youths of Middle Eastern descent as posing the biggest problem.
“I know that there are also ethnic Danes who commit serious crimes, but the statistics on young people with Middle Eastern backgrounds do not lie to us. We have a problem and we need to tackle it, and no, it’s not society’s fault”, Tesfaye said.
Tesfaye advised young people to apply themselves and find work instead of turning to petty crime, which often is a gateway to organised crime.
“And don’t tell me Danish companies are racist. I hear that all the time. I’ve also applied for internships with a weird name and it didn’t make things easier, but it can be done”, Tesfaye, the son of an Ethiopian immigrant, stressed.
Tesfaye also reprimanded the parents of young people who commit to anti-social behaviour, as he justified the practice of enabling entire families to be evicted from social housing based on the criminal conviction of a single family member.
“Your kids are ruining their youth by wandering around and acting smart down by the kebab place or at the station. They risk a future behind bars. Where are you? Turn off the TV, open up the curtains, and take some responsibility for the community you live in”, Tesfaye boomed.
Earlier this week, Mette Frederiksen discussed crime and the growing insecurity in society.
“Every fifth young man with a non-Western background, born in 1997, had broken the law before he turned 21 years old. Every fifth. It’s not everyone, but there are clearly too many. Young men who take the freedom of others, steal children’s futures, break down prison guards – and leave behind a long trail of insecurity”, Frederiksen said.
“It is not something new and that is the problem: it has been going on for too many years. Girls who are called derogatory names because they are Danish. Or girls who are subjected to social control because they have become too Danish”, she added.
As of 2020, there are roughly 775,000 immigrants and their descendants in Denmark, a country of 5.8 million. The share of non-Danes has been growing steadily due to immigration and demographic trends that generally include higher fertility rates among newcomers.