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The Social Services

Measures implemented by or based on decisions made from social services constitute the most dominant form of response to offenses committed by young people in Sweden. The criminal justice system is expected to cooperate with the social services in relation to cases involving young people and able to refer young offenders to the social services. This may take place in different phases of the criminal justice process, such as the initial processing of cases by the police (with the police being required to contact the social services when minors are suspected of offenses), when the prosecutor makes a decision whether to prosecute or issue a waiver of prosecution, and in the final phase of the process when the courts choose to impose certain forms of sanctions (e.g. youth care or youth service). In addition, the social services may implement measures to young offenders on their own initiative.

The section that follows provides a description of the relevant pieces of social services legislation relating to young offenders as well as how this legislation is implemented in practice. Since this legislation views crime as a social problem, it does not distinguish between measures that are taken in response to offending behaviour and measures taken in response to other forms of social problems, which are nonetheless often related to the youths’ offending behaviour.

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