The Impact of COVID-19 on Criminal Investigations and Proceedings in Sweden - A Snapshot of Practitioners' Realities

Forensic Sci Int Synerg. 2020 Nov 6:2:325-332. doi: 10.1016/j.fsisyn.2020.11.001. eCollection 2020.


Since well-functioning criminal investigations and proceedings are crucial parts of a society governed by the rule of law, it is essential to understand whether and how they are impacted by the current COVID-19 pandemic. The Swedish context provides an interesting case study and comparison to developments in other countries which have introduced more far-reaching interventions such as lockdowns. In this study, Swedish practitioners (N =10), including police officers, forensic pathologists, prosecutors, defense counsels and judges, participated in an online survey in which they gave their views on the pandemic's impact on their work situations. The overall results show that the major impact was on their work methods, with transitions to using more online methods and increased remote working, while the smallest impact was noted in relation to work character, including crime and evidence types which have remained relatively constant. Forensic pathologists reported the largest impact on work quality, although there was large individual variation in their responses. On a general level, the practitioners perceived that the measures undertaken at their work places were relatively sufficient and also perceived of the risk of contracting or spreading the virus as relatively low but also this was associated with large individual variation. Given the small sample of practitioners and that practitioners' responses relate to an early stage of what is presumed to be a prolonged pandemic, replication as well as caution in interpreting the results are needed.

Keywords: COVID-19; Crime; Sweden.