STOCKHOLM: Sweden’s police union has called on the government to recruit police from neighbouring Norway to combat a shortage of officers in the country.
The union says more than 250 officers in Norway are unable to find work, despite being fully qualified.
It proposed that they take a conversion course and begin work in Sweden instead.
Sweden’s Police Authority has told the BBC it has no plans to hire officers who have been trained abroad.
Sweden’s police force aims to hire 7,000 new officers by 2024.
However Anna Dennis, Vice Chair of the Swedish Police Union, says many places remain vacant because Sweden’s police academy has a high fail rate.
She suggested that the low wages on offer meant the police were not attracting the best applicants.
It takes two-and-a half years of training to become a police officer in Sweden. Applicants must pass physical, psychological and legal exams, hold a drivers license, be able to swim and have full Swedish citizenship.
Meanwhile serving officers are feeling the strain of staff shortages, Ms Dennis says. These are exacerbated because of an increasing number of officers leaving the force – from 612 in 2011 to 888 last year.
“It’s going to take many years to get the numbers up to where we should be,” Ms Dennis told the BBC. She said her union had come up with the suggestion of recruiting from Norway because “we want to be part of the solution rather than telling everyone how horrible it is”.
In contrast to their eastern neighbours, Norway currently has dozens of police officers who have been fully trained but cannot find employment due to a lack of government funding.
Both countries’ police forces co-operate on security along their 1,010-mile (1,630km) border, but there has never been a national programme in either country to retain officers qualified abroad.
In a statement, Sweden’s Police Authority told the BBC that “it is good that new ideas are raised”. However it said that the law required all police officers to have Swedish citizenship – to be eligible for citizenship, people must be born in Sweden or have lived in the country for at least five years.
No-one from Norway’s Police Service was immediately available for comment.
The Norwegian and Swedish languages both derive from Old Norse but while their pronunciation is similar, many of the words are different, according to language learning site Babbel.__BBC