Gun Hellsvik was the Swedish Minister of Justice from 1991-1994. She created the ‘brottsofferfond’ (criminal injuries compensation fund) and introduced the ankle monitor as a replacement for shorter prison sentences.
Gun Hellsvik was born in Ängelholm in 1942. She was the daughter of editor Åke Blomgren and his wife Aina Blomgren, who was a vocational studies teacher. She grew up and attended highschool in Ängelholm. During her highschool years she spent a funded year in the USA during which she attended a local highschool and lived with an American family. When she came home she became involved in the funded exchange programme and participated in interviews of candidates and host families. These experiences formed the basis of her interest in and active work in international affairs. During her highschool years she also became acquainted with the world of politics and was a member of Konservativ skolungdom (Conservative schoolchildren).
Having completed highschool Gun Hellsvik began to study at Lund university where she was very active in various branches of the student world. She met her future husband Per Hellsvik, and they married in 1966. She became a teaching assistant in procedural law in 1969, and in 1971 she gained her Bachelor of Law. In 1972 she was appointed university lecturer in law at the law department, and she worked there for 10 years until she became a municipal councillor for Moderaterna (the Moderate party) in 1982. She served as chair of Lund municipal board between the years of 1983 and 1988. Then, following the Socialdemokrat (social-democratic) party’s success at the general election she became a member of the opposition. She would dominate Lund’s political scene throughout the 1980s. In 1991 Carl Bildt invited her to assume a post in the newly created conservative government. From 1991 to 1994 she served as the Swedish Minister of Justice and from 1994 to 2001 she was chair of the Justice commission. For most of the 1990s she was also deputy chair of the Moderat party.
Gun Hellsvik served as director general of the Patent- och registreringsverk (patents and registration office) from 2001 to 2007, and during the period of 2004-2007 she was also chair of Högskolan i Borås (Borås college). Later she was also a member of the Riksbanksfullmäkige (council of the Swedish National bank) and a judge on the Försvarsunderrättelsedomen (military intelligence court).
Gun Hellsvik was extremely skilful in making things happen and her impact in Lund echoed throughout Sweden. For example, on Sweden’s National Day (6th June) she introduced a welcome ceremony in order to welcome new Swedish citizens, and subsequently many other local municipalities followed suit.
During her time as Minister of Justice Gun Hellsvik also introduced the concept of ankle monitors as a replacement for short prison sentences. She also introduced the criminal injuries compensation fund, whilst scrapping early release. She herself believed that she only got her proposals and reforms through by the skin of her teeth and that “it was worth fighting for”.
Gun Hellkvist died on 14 November 2016 at Ystad hospital. She is buried at the Östra cemetery in Lund.