She served as Municipal commissioner of Lund 1983-1991, Minister for Justice 1991-1994, member of the Riksdag, chairman of the Riksdag Committee on Justice 1994-2001, President of the Nordic Council 1999, Director General of the Swedish Patent and Registration Office 2001-2007, and chairman of the board of the University of Borås 2004-2007. Laila Freivalds was both her predecessor and successor to the office of Minister for Justice.
Hellsvik was known for her tough stance on drugs. She opposed dispensing clean needles to drug addicts, arguing that it would undermine people's confidence in the legal system. As Minister of Justice, she oversaw a legal change that made it a crime to be under the influence of an illicit drug, even in the absence of drug possession; she also authorised the police to forcibly obtain urine and blood samples from a suspected individual. She lauded the American war on drugs, claiming that "as so many times before, the United States, is showing us the right path". In a motion to parliament entitled "Strong measures against narcotics" (Krafttag mot narkotika;) she supported lifetime imprisonment for narcotics crimes, allowing the police the take urine and blood samples from small children to promote early detection of drug abuse and to authorise the police to routinely induce vomiting in individuals suspected of having swallowed narcotics, among other things; the proposals were voted down by parliament.
Hellsvik died from cancer on 14 November 2016, at the age of 74.
| Minister for Justice