The “hygge” police and the weirdly peaceful festival

Roskilde Festival's low crime rate befuddles the police every year. But the police's remarkably relaxed approach certainly plays a role

Among Roskilde Festival’s more remarkable traits, is how incredibly peaceful it always is. With 100,000 people gathered together drunk out of their minds, trampling on each other at packed concerts, and depriving each other of sleep with terrible, ironic 90s pop music, you would expect there to be plenty of violence – but this is not the case.

Carsten Andersen, head of communication at the Midt- og Vestsjællands police department believes the special atmosphere at the festival – that ‘Orange Feeling’ – is responsible for keeping the peace.

“Each year we see the festival guests conducting themselves in an orderly and happy fashion. I think there is a special Danish way of meeting with each other that helps ensure this is the case and we are very thankful for that. People are also very good at watching out for each other, so when somebody gets hurt there is usefully somebody on hand to help,” he says.

“Just the other day two boys were attacked, but due to good witness statements we were able to quickly apprehend the suspects and arrest them.”

Laid back coppers
The police also have a special approach to law enforcement at the festival, which involves not taking themselves too seriously and trying to contribute to the positive mood that characterises the festival.

“We always tell our officers to be happy and relaxed at the festival, and each year we look forward to it. Roskilde Festival should be a communal and peaceful event and we want to contribute to that. We also see that people sometimes make friendly jokes about us and there are a lot of selfies taking with our officers. That being said it does not mean that we are not ready to jump in when something happens.”

This might sound like pretty hollow PR – perhaps the police should adopt this approach the rest of the year too – but after having taken a police selfie (posfie?) and played games with the police this writer can attest to this.

And this is why Roskilde is always nice and peaceful. #copfie #partypolice

A photo posted by Elías Þórsson (@eliasthors) on

Tough on weed
The biggest bother festival guest seem to experience from the police, are drug sniffing dogs finding people’s weed. Andersen denies that the police have stepped up their efforts against herbal remedies in recent years, but that doesn’t support my experience. When I first went to the festival in 2005 it was rare to walk past a camp that was not reeking of pot. Now police dogs are brought in to sniff out unsuspecting weed smokers.

I dislike weed, but stoners are pretty friendly people – albeit slow – so maybe the old, more relaxed, approach should be resurrected. In regards to keeping the peace, it is clear you want people stoned, rather than drunk. And remember kids, there is a 5,000 kroner fine for possession.

Police dogs looking for drugs in the Roskilde Festival camping grounds.

Crime by the numbers
Maybe the criminal element is being sensible and avoiding the gloomy, grey weather by staying warm and comfortable indoors. Or maybe people are just spending more time zipped up inside their tents. At any rate, theft from camps are down considerably from previous years.

According to the latest statistics, there have only been 95 reported thefts this year, down from 783 in 2015. Arrests for drug possession are also down, from 363 in 2015 to 204 this year. But while only a single person was caught jumping the fence into the festival last year, four people have already been charged for the offence.


It would also seem that increased xenophobia in parliament – and the resulting immigration restrictions – is having an effect. Only five people have so far been charged with breaking immigration regulations, down from 15 the previous year. But with Brexit drawing ever closer, next Roskilde could be a risky place to be a Brit if the cops continue a hardline approach to illegal immigrants.

News, Culture

By Elias Thorsson

Managing editor. @Eliasthorsson

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