Fourteen Prostitution Cases Reported in Iceland This Year

Chief Superintendent Grímur Grímsson

Fourteen prostitution-related offences have been reported to the police in 2023, with only a few leading to fines or prosecutions. The head of the central investigative department with the Metropolitan Police has told RÚV that the police lacks sufficient manpower to adequately investigate such cases

A total of 562 cases since the enactment

Fourteen cases of prostitution-related offences have been brought to the police for investigation this year. This was disclosed in responses from the Minister of Justice to queries by Brynhildur Björnsdóttir, deputy member of Parliament for the Left-Green Movement.

As noted on the Parliament’s website, the response indicates that of these cases, two have been subjected to fine procedures and three to prosecution. No verdict has been delivered in any of the cases that emerged this year.

As noted by Vísir, Brynhildur had inquired about the number of prostitution offences committed since the enactment of Law 54/2009, which criminalises the purchase of sexual services and provides penalties of fines or up to one year of imprisonment for those who buy or attempt to buy sex. Since 2009, there have been a total of 562 such cases.

Of these, 82 underwent fine procedures, 251 faced prosecution, and verdicts have been reached in 104 of the cases. The Minister’s response also notes the difficulty in compiling information on convictions or acquittals due to the extensive work entailed.

Rare for victims of prostitution to press charges

As noted by RÚV, the number of cases that have been subjected to prosecution procedures has declined significantly since 2013. That year, 126 cases were subject to prosecution and a verdict was delivered in 64 of those cases. Since then, prosecutory actions have been pursued much more infrequently and a verdict in such cases has only been delivered nine times.  

In an interview with RÚV published this morning, Drífa Snædal, spokesperson for Stígamót (a centre for survivors of sexual violence that provides free and confidential counselling), asserted that the statistical data do not align with the actual scale of the offences; the staff at Stígamót feel that incidents of prostitution have increased in recent years, with Drífa pointing to the number of websites offering services of prostitutes.

According to Stígamót’s annual report, 18 individuals sought help from the centre last year due to prostitution. The report notes that processing the traumatic experiences associated with prostitution often takes a long time.

As noted by RÚV, a likely explanation for the low rate of legal action in such cases, as presented in the response from the Minister of Justice, is that these matters are not a priority for the police. Cases often need to be actively sought out because it is rare for victims of prostitution to directly approach police stations to press charges against purchasers.

Drífa also noted that court proceedings in such cases are always closed, which she finds incomprehensible; the identity of the perpetrator never becomes public, which does not affect the victim’s standing in society. Meanwhile, the self-blame experienced by those in prostitution is significant, with victims often holding themselves responsible and resorting to prostitution out of some form of desperation.

Lacking sufficient manpower

Grímur Grímsson, head of the central investigative unit of the Metropolitan Police, told RÚV that the police lacked sufficient manpower to adequately address these cases.

Grímur agreed that there were a significant number of websites offering prostitution services in Iceland and not enough manpower to investigate. He mentioned that the increase in violent crime in recent years had also played a role in this regard. “Violent crime cases take a lot of time, and they are urgent. But it is a matter of prioritisation; hopefully, we can do better in the new year,” Grímur observed.

Suspect in Laugavegur Stabbing Still at Large

police station reykjavík

The man responsible for a stabbing on Laugavegur early last week remains at large. A detective with Iceland’s Central Investigative Department told Vísir that the prolonged search was “unusual.”

Victim conscious but seriously injured

Nearly ten days have passed since a man was stabbed on Laugavegur in downtown Reykjavík. The assault took place in the early hours of Tuesday, July 4, with the assailant evading capture prior to police arrival. The suspect remains at large.

The victim of the attack, although seriously injured, was conscious by the time the police arrived. The man was taken to the National University Hospital (Landspítali) and was placed in intensive care. Chief Superintendent Grímur Grímsson told reporters at the time that the man’s life was not in danger.

Prolonged Search “Unusual,” Police Say

Eiríkur Valberg, Detective Chief Inspector with Iceland’s Central Investigative Department, told Vísir today that the police were still searching for the suspect. Eiríkur was unwilling to go into further detail about the investigation on the basis of investigative interests but admitted that a suspect remaining at large for such a long time was “unusual.”

According to Eiríkur, the victim is doing well, although he could not confirm whether the man had been discharged from the hospital. Previously, Chief Superintendent Grímur Grímsson had stated that the police would publish a wanted notice for the man if the search proved unsuccessful. Eiríkur did not want to reveal if the circle had narrowed in recent days.

As previously noted by IR, this is the second stabbing occurring in downtown Reykjavík over the span of a few weeks. Two people have suffered fatal stab wounds in Iceland since the start of 2023.

Suspect in Laugavegur Stabbing Remains at Large

police lögreglan

The suspect behind a Laugavegur stabbing on Monday night remains at large. The victim of the attack sustained serious injuries, RÚV reports.

Conscious but seriously injured

At just past midnight on Monday, a man was stabbed on Laugavegur in downtown Reykjavík. The attacker had fled the scene by the time the police arrived. He remains at large.

Chief Superintendent Grímur Grímsson told RÚV that the stabbing was being investigated by the Icelandic police’s central investigative department.

The victim of the attack, although seriously injured, was conscious by the time the police arrived. The man was taken to the National University Hospital (Landspítali) and was placed in intensive care. According to Grímur, his life is not in danger.

This is the second stabbing occurring in downtown Reykjavík over the span of ten days. Two people have suffered fatal stab wounds in Iceland since the start of 2023.

Co-Tenant Arrested in Hafnarfjörður Murder Case

The man found dead in an industrial area in Hafnarfjörður on Saturday morning is believed to have died from stab wounds, RÚV reports. The police have arrested the man’s co-tenant on suspicion of murder.

Exact circumstances remain unclear

A man discovered unconscious in an industrial area in Hafnarfjörður on Saturday morning is believed to have died from stab wounds, according to authorities. The man’s co-tenant has been taken into police custody on suspicion of murder. This incident marks the third homicide in Iceland in two months.

“We are investigating a suspected homicide,” Grímur Grímsson, Chief Superintendent of the Icelandic Police’s central investigative department, told RÚV yesterday. While he declined to disclose specific details, he clarified the ongoing nature of the case.

“At this point, I’m not prepared to go into too much detail in this investigation,” Grímur told RÚV. “Given the recent occurrence, it is not feasible to delve deeper into it.” RÚV sources indicate that the attack occurred inside the victim’s bedroom early on Saturday morning, following which he managed to exit the residence before succumbing to his injuries.

“While the exact circumstances remain uncertain, the deceased exhibited injuries consistent with stab wounds, leading us to work on the assumption that he died as a result of such an injury,” Grímur stated when addressing concerns about alternative causes of death.

An autopsy is expected to determine the definitive cause of the man’s death.

A third party called the police

The deceased was in his forties and the suspect about forty years old, according to the police. Both hail from Poland. The men knew each other and shared a residence. According to sources, the suspect reportedly confided in a third party about the attack, leading to a subsequent call to the police. As a result, two individuals were apprehended. “We detained two men, one at the scene and the other a short distance away,” Grímur remarked to RÚV.

The latter individual was released on Saturday after it became evident that he had no involvement in the case, despite being present at the scene. The suspect, however, has been remanded in custody for five days.

This incident marks the third homicide of the year and the third within the past two months.

When asked about the significance of these occurrences, the police downplayed any interpretation, stating: “Currently, there is no specific implication. Historically, Iceland has experienced an average of 1.7 to 1.8 homicide cases per year. Sometimes these incidents cluster together, followed by periods of relative calm. Hence, we do not attribute any particular meaning to this pattern at present.”

Dubliner Gunman Arrested, to Be Held in Custody Until Friday

police lögreglan

The man suspected of having fired a gun inside the pub The Dubliner in downtown Reykjavík last weekend will be held in custody until 4 PM Friday, Vísir reports. The gunman was arrested Monday evening, following a 24-hour manhunt.

Suspect fled from the scene

Shortly after 7 PM Sunday, the capital area police were notified that a man had fired a gun inside The Dubliner bar in downtown Reykjavík. The bullet struck a wall adjacent to the bar, and the shooter fled the scene immediately.

The police responded quickly, dispatching a large unit, alongside special forces and ambulances, to the scene. Although no serious injuries were suffered, two bar patrons did require treatment: one suffered a cut on his head while the other expressed concerns about his hearing.

The police later recovered a firearm near the scene.

Following a 24-hour manhunt, the gunman – who is in his late twenties – was arrested on Monday evening. After interrogations yesterday, the man was brought before a judge shortly before 5 PM. The police requested that he be detained for a week, but the judge only agreed to hold him until 4 PM on Friday.

During a statement to the news on Monday, Grímur Grímsson, the Detective Chief Superintendent, did not rule out the possibility of a connection between this event and the knife attack that took place at the Bankastræti Club last year.

Body Discovered in Grafarvogur, Reykjavík Yesterday

The Capital Area Police was notified yesterday after a body was discovered in the Grafarvogur neighbourhood of Reykjavík. A detective with the Capital Area Police told DV.is that it was too early to say whether something criminal had occurred.

Too early to comment

Yesterday, DV.is reported that a body had been discovered at Gufunesvegur in the Grafarvogur neighbourhood of Reykjavík. DV spoke with Grímur Grímsson, Chief Superintendent of the Investigative Department of the Capital Area Police, who confirmed the discovery.

The body was found in an area near public housing – five small cottages – intended for individuals struggling with addiction. Grímur stated that he was unable to comment further on the discovery; the matter was under investigation, and it was too early to say whether anything criminal had taken place.

Considerable activity at the scene

According to a tip received from a DV reader, there was considerable police activity at the scene, and the news agency estimated that fifteen police officers, including the forensics department, were at work there yesterday.

Fréttablaðið quotes residents of the cottages as saying that the police did not intervene further after the body was found. The body was discovered on the street in front of the cottages.

“There were ten, fifteen cops here, but I slept through it,” Máni Jökull Karlsson, a resident of one of the cottages on Gufunesvegur, told Fréttablaðið yesterday. “What is one supposed to think? There are only five cottages here. The police didn’t blame me – which is what they usually do. When Friðfinnur disappeared, they made a special trip to the cottages. I missed the scene this morning, but I was told that it was quite the operation.”

Judge Grants Extended Custody Over Domestic-Terror Suspects

Terror plot

Yesterday, the Reykjavík District Court granted the district attorney’s request to extend custody over two individuals suspected of planning a domestic-terror attack, both of whom have been kept in isolation since late September, RÚV reports. The suspects’ lawyers have appealed the decision to the National Court.

“The first investigation of its kind”

Four Icelandic men were arrested on September 21 suspected of “terrorist plots” against state institutions and civilians. Two of the suspects were immediately released; the other two have remained in custody.

According to the police, the suspects had hoarded numerous weapons – including dozens of semi-automatic guns and 3D-printed components – alongside a considerable amount of ammunition. The men, all of whom are in their twenties, had reportedly discussed carrying out an attack during the police’s annual celebration (which was held on October 1).

Chief Police Inspector Karl Steinar Valsson told reporters that this was the “first investigation of its kind to be launched in Iceland.”

Custody extended

Yesterday, District Attorney Ólafur Þór Hauksson confirmed to RÚV that the Reykjavík District Court had agreed to extend custody over the two suspects. The court’s rationale was primarily founded on the complicated nature of the investigation.

As previously noted, eight different units are working on the investigation. “We’re investigating the 3D printer, various electronic data, weapons, and tips from the public. We’ve also sent quite a bit of data to police authorities in the Nordic countries and to Europol so that they may assist in our processing of the evidence,” Grímur Grímsson, Chief of the Capital Area Police, told reports on September 29.

According to Ólafur Þór, the police have also yet to formally interrogate the two suspects. As soon as investigative interests no longer apply, however, there would be no need to keep the suspects isolated, Ólafur observed. The suspects’ lawyers have criticised their clients’ prolonged isolation. They appealed the decision to extend custody to the National Court yesterday.

As previously noted in Iceland Review, National Police Commissioner Sigríður Björk Guðjónsdóttir has recused herself from the investigation, as the home of the Police Commissioner’s father, a well-known weapons collector, was searched during the investigation.

Semi-Automatic Weapons Seized During Domestic-Terror Plot Raid

Weapons and ammunition

Last week, the police arrested four Icelandic men suspected of planning a domestic-terrorism attack. During a press conference today, the police stated that numerous weapons, including semi-automatic firearms and 3D-printed components, had been seized during the investigation. Two of the suspects remain in custody and are being held in isolation.

The “first investigation of its kind”

Four Icelandic men were arrested last Wednesday, September 21, suspected of “terrorist plots” against state institutions and civilians. Two of the suspects were immediately released; the other two have remained in custody.

According to the police, the suspects had hoarded numerous weapons – including dozens of semi-automatic guns and 3D-printed components – alongside a considerable amount of ammunition. The men, all of whom are in their twenties, had discussed carrying out an attack during the police’s annual celebration (to be held on Saturday, October 1).

Chief Police Inspector Karl Steinar Valsson told reporters last week that this was the “first investigation of its kind to be launched in Iceland.”

Press conference
Grímur Grímsson and Sveinn Ingiberg at today’s press conference (Photo: Golli)

A long-awaited press conference

At 3 PM today, the police authorities held another press conference to update the public on the state of the investigation.

Taking their places behind their respective podia, Grímur Grímsson, Chief of the Capital Area Police, and Sveinn Ingiberg Magnússon, Chief of Police for the District Attorney’s Office, began by revealing that the National Police Commissioner, Sigríður Björk Guðjónsdóttir, had recused herself from the investigation as an individual connected to her had been named in the investigation.

According to Grímur, the police have executed 17 search warrants and seized numerous firearms, some of which had been assembled with 3D-printed components and others that had been modified to function as automatic weapons. The authorities have also seized magazines, bullets, silencers, and knives. Nevertheless, Grímur observed, the threat of a terrorist attack in Iceland “remains low“ and the police have seen no reason to raise the alert level: “There’s no reason to believe that we, as a society, are not safe,” Grímur remarked.

Grímur also noted that the investigation was complicated and time consuming: “We have eight different units working on the investigation. We’re investigating the 3D printer, various electronic data, weapons, and tips from the public. We’ve also sent quite a bit of data to police authorities in the Nordic countries and to Europol so that they may assist in our processing of the evidence.”

Police authorities
Grímur and Sveinn speak to reporters (Golli)

The suspects are being held in isolation

After the press conference, Grímur and Sveinn fielded a few questions, most of which were deflected on the grounds that the police could “not comment during this stage of the investigation.” It was revealed, however, that the two suspects are being held in isolation and that the police had arrested them less than 24 hours after suspicions of a domestic terrorism attack had emerged.

Grímur and Sveinn concluded the press conference by encouraging the public to report any suspicion of 3D-printed firearms or ammunition to the police.

This article was updated at 10.50 AM on Friday, September 30.

Police Announce Historic Drug Bust

Capital Area Police

The Capital Area Police held a press conference yesterday announcing a historic drug bust. The street value of the seizure amounts to ISK 2.4 billion ($18.5 million / €17.4 million).

ISK 1.7 billion worth of drugs seized

At 2 pm yesterday, the Capital Area Police Department held a press conference announcing a historic drug bust resulting from two extensive investigations. The street value of the drugs seized in the two busts amounts to an estimated ISK 2.4 billion ($18.5 million / €17.4 million). Ten individuals have been arrested in connection to each investigation.

According to Assistant Detective Chief Superintendent Margeir Sveinsson – who introduced the results of the former investigation – the Capital Area Police had been monitoring individuals suspected of the manufacture, distribution, and sale of illegal narcotics over the past few months. The individuals in question were also suspected of money laundering.

On May 20, a raid was carried out in 14 locations – commercial buildings, residential homes, and farmsteads. The police later searched six other places during their investigation, and ten individuals were arrested, one of whom remains in custody.

“We believe this is the biggest domestic seizure connected to a single investigation,” Margeir stated. The police seized 200 cannabis plants, over 30 kg of marijuana, 20 kg of hashish, and 7 kg of MDA. The police also seized MDA base, from which it is possible to manufacture over 200,000 ecstasy pills; 2 kg of cocaine; 1 kg of amphetamines; and over 40 litres of amphetamine base, which, based on its potency, could suffice to manufacture 170 kg of amphetamine for street sale. Finally, the police confiscated two kg of crystal methamphetamine, a “very potent drug,” according to Margeir.

Margeir estimated that the street value of these substances amounted to ISK 1.7 billion ($13.1 million / €12.3 million). He also observed that profits from sales were commonly laundered through legal businesses. The investigation is still ongoing.

700 million worth of amphetamine

After Margeir had concluded, Detective Chief Superintendent Grímur Grímsson discussed a separate investigation into organised crime that’s been ongoing for the past one and a half years. The investigation was initiated by information from Europol predicated on encrypted messages. In early 2020, imported substances were used to produce 117 kg of amphetamine, with a street value of 700 million ($5.4 million / €5.1 million). Ten individuals were arrested during the investigation, five were detained, three of whom remain in custody. According to mbl.is, all of the suspects in custody are Icelandic males.

Over 200 judicial claims

Hulda Elsa Björgvinsdóttir, Head of Indictments with the Capital Area Police Department, stated that legal proceedings based on the two investigations had been initiated in September, 2020. Many more legal complaints, or over 200, have since been filed.

The charges include organised crime in connection to the manufacture, importation, distribution, and sale of illegal narcotics, in addition to money laundering. According to Hulda, a great deal of time and effort was spent on the investigations and local authorities have been  in continuous contact with police authorities abroad.

Hulda also noted the extensiveness of the crimes, observing that it was worth considering their impact on the lives of affected individuals. She also questioned the effectiveness of laws stipulating that suspects may only be held in custody for twelve weeks unless charges are brought: “a brief time,” in relation to such extensive investigations, Hulda remarked.

Among the “greatest threat” to society

Chief of Police Halla Bergþóra Björnsdóttir also addressed media during the press conference. She remarked that the importation and manufacture of illegal narcotics was the single largest aspect of organised crime, which she deemed “one of the more serious threats” to modern Icelandic society.

Margeir added that the police had an estimated 10 ongoing investigations into organised crime in Iceland.