Stark comparison with Europe when it comes to number of police officers
The number of police officers per thousand inhabitants in Iceland has decreased since 2007, while in the last year the proportion of police officers, educated and untrained, was 1.8 per thousand inhabitants compared to 2.2 in 2007.
This is in response to Minister of Justice Jón Gunnar Gunnarsson’s question from Senator Þorbjörg Sigríður Gunnlaugsdóttir about the number of serving police officers in Iceland.
There were about ten police officers present for every ten thousand tourists in 2012 and 2013, but in 2017 and 2018 the ratio had dropped to less than three officers.
Comparing the number of police officers in Iceland per hundred thousand inhabitants to the European average some stark differences emerge. According to Eurostat’s 2020 figures, the European average of police officers per hundred thousand inhabitants was 333.4. In Iceland, the number is much smaller, or 176 police officers. In his response, the Minister of Justice says the comparison is difficult because there are differences between countries as to which law enforcement bodies are included in the calculations.
Primary duty to ensure safety
Gunnlaugsdóttir says the difference between Iceland and Europe is striking.
“Because it’s a consistent measurement, you think the difference is quite large. This goes hand in hand with what the police themselves have been pointing out about the small increase over a considerable period of time despite the high population growth and despite the complete explosion in tourism,” Gunnlaugsdóttir tells Morgunblaðið.
She said she is deeply concerned about the situation, but law enforcement tends to be forgotten when talking about infrastructure.
“Police enforcement is an absolutely essential element there. It is the primary duty of the state to ensure the safety of citizens and this is done by the police being manned,” says Gunnlaugsdóttir.