Criminal damage and vandalism

Approximately 195,000 offences were reported to the police in 2015, which is a 29 per cent increase from the preceding year.

Reported offences

Number of reported offences relating to criminal damage 2006–2015, of which tagging on public transportation and other graffiti. Source: Reported offences

In 2015, 195,000 criminal damage offences were reported, which is 29 per cent more than the preceding year. Tagging on public transportation and other graffiti constitute most of the increase. Total reported criminal damage offences have increased by 32 per cent since 2006.

The most common criminal damage offences are tagging and vandalism on motor vehicles, which together represent more than half of the criminal damage reported to the police. Criminal damage by arson is less common, and represents only a few per cent of the reports.

Cleared offences

Person-based clearance rate² for criminal damage, 2006 – 2015. Source: Processed offences

Processed offences

In 2015, 195,000 criminal damage offences were processed¹, a 2 % increase as compared with the previous year. Investigations were commenced for 13 per cent (26,300) of the processed offences, while 87 per cent were dismissed with no investigation. In respect of all processed criminal damage offences, investigations were limited for 1 per cent of the offences (2,100 offences) and investigations in almost all of these offences (2,030 offences) were limited after having been commenced.

The person-based clearance rate² for criminal damage offences in 2015 was 2 per cent, which is a reduction by 1 percentage point as compared with 2014. It is also 2 percentage point less than the level ten years ago. The conviction rate² for criminal damage offences was 17 per cent in 2015.

Persons suspected of criminal damage

Number of persons suspected of criminal damage, 2006 – 2015. Source: Persons suspected of offences

Persons suspected of offences

In 2015, 5,350 persons were registered as suspected of criminal damage offences, which is 36 fewer persons (-1%) than the preceding year. Seen over the most recent ten-year period, the number of suspected persons increased until 2009, but has thereafter declined each year until 2012. The last three years the number has been relatively level. The number of suspected persons in 2015 was 24 per cent lower than in 2006.

Persons found guilty of criminal damage offences

Number of conviction decisions of criminal damage as the primary offence, 2006 – 2015. Source: Persons found guilty of offences

Convictions

In 2015, there were 1,950 conviction decisions³ of vandalism as the primary offence, which is a reduction of 321 decisions, or 14 per cent, as compared with the preceding year. The number of conviction decisions where vandalism was the primary offence has declined since 2006 by 1250 decisions, or 39 per cent. Between 2006 and 2008, the trend was clearly on the rise. However, the trend has turned downwards somewhat since 2008, and the number of conviction decisions has declined steadily during the most recent seven years.

Characteristic youth offence

By virtue of the fact that few vandalism offences are cleared, it is difficult to give a fair picture of the suspected perpetrators. Vandalism and particularly tagging are probably typical youth offences. Approximately 30 per cent of those suspected of vandalism during 2013 were young people between 15 and 20 years of age, and in previous years this figure was between 36 – 40 per cent.

In Brå's school survey, every fourth ninth-year pupil stated that they had committed some type of vandalism in 2011 –a significant decline since the first survey in 1995, when 46 per cent stated that they had participated in some type of vandalism related incident. Tagging and "other types of vandalism" were roughly equally common, with approximately 15 – 17 per cent of the students stating that they had tagged or committed some other type of vandalism. Setting fire to a valuable object or painting graffiti were less common, and between 2 per cent and 4 per cent stated that they had done one of these.

Most cases of criminal damage are not reported to the police, which makes it difficult to statistically identify the actual scope of vandalism. An increase in the number of offences reported to the police does not always mean that actual criminality is increasing. There are indications that society has taken a more serious view of vandalism and that the inclination to report has therefore increased. One example of this is the large increase in 2007, which in part was due to the fact that the public transit authority in Stockholm County began, that same year, to photograph and report all tagging to the police.

¹) The statistic for processed offences reports the number of reported offences where the police, public prosecutor, or other investigatory authority has taken a decision regarding the offence.

²) Person-based clearance means that a person suspected of the offence has been tied to the offence through an indictment, the issuance of a summary sanction order, or the issuance of a waiver of prosecution.

  • The person-based clearance rate reports the number of offences with person-based clearances during one year as a percentage of the number of processed offences during the same year. As from 2014, an adjusted person-based clearance rate is reported. The metric is essentially structured in the same way as previously, however, it is calculated based on all processed offences instead of all reported offences.

  • The conviction rate reports the number of person-based clearances during one year as a per cent of all investigated offences, excluding offences with limitations of investigation during the same period.

³) The statistic regarding persons found guilty of offences reports the number of convictions which were issued during the year. "Conviction decision" means a conviction in a district court or decision of a public prosecutor, such as a summary sanction order or waiver of prosecution, during one calendar year. A single individual may be found guilty of an offence in different ways and on several occasions during one year. A conviction decision may contain decisions regarding several offences and several sanctions.

Facts

  • 195,000 cases of criminal damage were reported to the police (2015).  
  • Nearly half of all criminal damage in Sweden is reported in the Stockholm region (2015)
  • 42 per cent of those suspected of tagging are between 15 and 20 years of age (2015)
  • 2 per cent = person-based clearance rate for criminal damage (2015)