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Crime and statistics

Brå has the important task of reporting on crime trends in Sweden. We use a number of different sources. In addition to statistics regarding reported offences and the Swedish Crime Survey (Nationella trygghetsundersökningen – NTU), we also use other statistical sources and research.

Exposure to crime

The Swedish Crime Survey (NTU) is an annual survey regarding exposure to crime, fear of crime and confidence in the justice system.

Of those who responded to the questions in the 2015 NTU, 11.3 per cent state that during 2014 they were victims of the types of offences which are categorised in the report as offences against individual persons: assault, threats, sexual offences, mugging, fraud, or harassment. This is lower than the previous years (in 2013, the percentage was 12.7%) and a return to roughly the same level measured in the first survey in 2005.

The most common types of offences are threats and harassment, while exposure to sexual offences, aggravated assaults, and mugging are least common.

Offences against individual persons

Percentage of the population which were victims of different types of offences against individual persons, 2005-2014. Source: NTU 2015

Of the offences against individual persons which were reported in the 2014 NTU, approximately three in ten (31%) were reported to the police. The highest reporting rate is for mugging (60%) and the lowest is for sexual offences (12%). The percentage of reported incidents has increased somewhat since 2005, when the reporting rate was 24 per cent.

Most people who were victims of offences against individual persons state that they were victimised once during 2013, but 15 per cent of this group (corresponding to 1.5% of the population 16-79 years of age) state that they were victimised four or more times. The latter group were victims of over half (60%) of all offences against individual persons.

Of persons of working age (20-64 years of age), 2.4 per cent state that they were victims of assault, threats, mugging, or sexual offences during 2013 as a result of their profession.

Property offences against households

Percentage of households exposed to different types of property offences, 2006-2014. Source: NTU 2015

In 2013, 9.7 per cent of households were exposed to car theft, the theft of something kept in a vehicle, bicycle theft or burglary (referred to as property offence against a household). Exposure to these crimes has decreased somewhat since 2006 (when the number was 12.6 per cent). The most common property offence is bicycle theft, while the least common are burglary and car thefts.

Of the property offences against households reported in the NTU, approximately half (53 per cent) are reported to the police. The highest reporting rate is for burglary (84 per cent) and the lowest is for bicycle theft (40 per cent). Car theft, like burglary, has a high report rate. The percentage of reported incidents has been relatively stable since 2006.

An overwhelming majority of those exposed to property offences against households state that they were only exposed to one such incident in 2013. Only 3 per cent of the exposed households were exposed to four or more incidents.

NTU (The Swedish Crime Survey)


Reported offences

Breakdown between different types of offences, 2015. Source: Reported offences

Reported offences

The most common offences which are reported are the different types of theft and break-ins. Approximately 35 per cent of all criminality can be assigned to this category. These so-called acquisitive offences include, among other things, car theft and shoplifting.

Offences against the person – primarily violent offences – represent 17 per cent of the total number of offences reported¹. Offences against the person include, for example, assaults and sexual offences. Various types of criminal damage, which comprise 13 per cent of the number of reported offences, are also very common. Offences under the Road Traffic Offences Act represent slightly more than 5 per cent of the total number of reported offences. Approximately 12 per cent of the total number of reported offences are fraud offences, and approximately 6 per cent are offences under the Narcotics Offences Act.

The most recent ten-year period is characterised by a reduction in theft offences by 12 percentage points over 2006-2015. The number of vandalism offences has increased over the most recent tem years by 1 percentage point. The rates of most other categories of offences have increased. Offences against the person (Chapters 3-7 of the Penal Code) increased during the period by 1 percentage points, fraud offences increased by 8 percentage points, and narcotics offences increased by 1 percentage points.

Reported offences

Reported offences per 100,000 population, 2000–2015 Source: Reported offences

The total number of offences reported to the police, customs authorities, and public prosecutor has increased considerably since 1950, the year in which we began to keep national crime statistics in Sweden. The increase in the number of reported offences does not, on the other hand, mean that actual criminality has increased. Supplemental victim surveys and various types of special studies indicate, however, the same tendency as that reflected by reported offences – namely that actual criminality for many types of offences has increased.

During a ten-year period (2006-2015) the number of reported offences increased by 278,000 offences (+23%). Since 1975, trends for all reported crimes have been characterised by a steady increase. However, the average increase rate, i.e. the percentage change from year to year, was however smaller from 1990 to 2005, only to increase during the most recent ten-year period.

Different factors have contributed to the increase in the number of reported offences in the post-war period. The primary explanation is improved living standards, which have entailed increased access to theft-attractive goods, combined with weakened social control mechanisms. This has created increased opportunity for crime. However, variations in the tendency to report offences and changes in routines for maintaining statistics may have also had an impact on the statistical level of reported offences.

Statistics on reported offences

Person-based clearances

Number of person-based clearances, based on the old definition calculated based on reported offences, and on the new definition (as of 2014) calculated based on the processed offences². Source: Processed offences

Processed offences

During 2015, 1,510,000 offences were processed². The majority (85%) of these were reported during the same year, while 12 per cent were reported during the preceding year. The remaining offences (2%) were reported prior to 2014. An investigation was conducted for 49 per cent of the processed offences. Of these, the largest categories of offences (by number of offences) were: offences against the person and theft and acquisitive offences.

The other processed offences were dismissed with no investigation. Of these, slightly more than half were theft and acquisitive offences. At least one suspect was registered for slightly less than one-third of the processed offences (475,000, or 31%). 44% of these offences were offences against the person and narcotics offences.

During the year, 4% (59,100) of all processed offences had limited preliminary investigations. Most decisions regarding limitations of investigations were taken after an investigation was commenced. The largest categories of offences for which investigations were limited in 2015, were offences against the person, which comprised 23 per cent.

During 2015, person-based clearances² accounted for 215,000 processed offences. This is a somewhat higher level than the preceding year (+ 3,240 offences).

In terms of numbers, the increase was primarily in respect of offences where prosecution had been commenced (4,050 offences).

Of all processed offences, 14 per cent resulted in person-based clearances (the "person-based clearance rate"), which is the same percentage as in 2014. The conviction decision rate, i.e. the percentage of person-based clearances among all investigated offences in 2015, was 31 per cent, unchanged from the preceeding year.

Statistics on processed offences

Persons suspected of offences

Number of persons suspected of offences, 2006-2015. Source: Persons suspected of offences

Persons suspected of offences

In 2015, 106,000 individuals were registered as suspected of committing offences³. This is a small reduction as compared with the preceding year (-513 persons suspected of offences).

The reduction in the number of persons suspected of offences refers to several categories of offences. In terms of numbers, the reduction was greatest among persons suspected in the categories of offences against the person (-3%), and theft (-3%). The greatest reduction can be noted among persons suspected of fraud offences (-3%).

In 2015, there were 20,800 women suspected of offences and 84,500 men. Women comprised 20 per cent of all persons suspected of offences. The rate of women has varied between 19-21 per cent during the most recent ten years.

The number of persons suspected of offences increased in all age groups during 2015, with the exception of the 18-20 age group, which declined by 4 per cent. Young people suspected of offences in the 15-20 age group are however still overrepresented in proportion to the percentage of the total number of persons who are above the age of criminal responsibility. In 2015, they represented 20 per cent of all persons suspected of offences, as compared with 8 per cent of the population.

Persons suspected of offences were registered as having participated in 345,000 offences (known as "offence participations") in 2015. This gives an average of 3.3 offence participations for each person suspected of an offence during the year. The total number of offence participations increased by 7 per cent between 2014 and 2015. Increases can be seen in almost all categories of offences. The greatest increase was in fraud (+36%). Variations in the number of offence participations in fraud offences are not uncommon and occur because individual fraud offence matters can cover a large number of offences.

The most common category of offence for women in terms of all offence participations by women in 2015 was theft offences (25%), while for men the most common category was narcotics offences (20%). Narcotics offences are also the most common type of offence for person suspected of offences in the 15-20 age group. More than one-fourth (28%) of all offence participations in this age group were narcotics offences.

Statistics on persons suspected of offences

Convictions

Number of convictions, sorted by type of conviction, 2006-2015. Source: Persons found guilty of offences

Persons found guilty of offences

There were 107,000 convictions in 2015, which is a reduction of 3,180 decisions (3%) as compared with 2014. Court convictions declined by 2 per cent to 59,300, summary sanction orders declined by 3 per cent to 31,500 decisions, and waivers of prosecution declined by 5 per cent to 15,900 decisions.

Various types of road traffic offences represent a significant proportion of the reduction during 2015. As compared with 2014, the number of road traffic offences as the primary offence declined by 12 per cent to 9,260 decisions.   

The number of court convictions carrying a prison sentence as the primary sanction declined by 2 per cent to 10,700 convictions. This is thus the third year in a row with the lowest number of prison sentences since the beginning of the 1970s.

In 2015, the number of prison sentences declined among all prison sentence groups of more than one month. The number of prison sentences has declined during the most recent ten-year period (2006-2015). The greatest reduction can be seen in prison sentences with terms of more than two months with a maximum of six months. The average imposed prison term was 8.6 months in 2006 the same as in 2006.

Statistics on persons found guilty of offences

Persons in institutions

Number of persons in prison service institutions and number of persons who were admitted to institutions as of 1 October 2006-2015. Source: The Prison and Probation Service

Prison and Probation Service

In 2015, 8,580 persons were admitted to prison service institutions, which is a 4 per cent reduction as compared with the preceding year. The number has decreased by 18 per cent as compared with 2006. There were 4,290 persons admitted to institutions as of 1 October 2015, which is a 1 per cent reduction since 2014. The number has also declined in comparison with 1 October 2006 (-22%).

Of those persons admitted to prison service institutions during 2015, 6 per cent were women, and 94 per cent were men. This proportion has been stable during the most recent ten-year period.

Of those persons admitted during 2015, 43 per cent had a previous prison and probation service sentence which entailed a deprivation of liberty. This applied to 40 per cent of the admitted women and 44 per cent of the admitted men. As compared with 2014, the total number of admitted persons who had previously been deprived of liberty decreased by 3 percentage points. As compared with 2006 the percentage had decreased by 8 percentage points.

Of those persons who were admitted during 2015, 5 per cent were 15-20 years of age, 14 per cent were 21-24 years of age, 45 per cent were 25-39 years of age, and 35 per cent were over 40 years of age. The age breakdown was essentially the same as the preceding year. As compared with 2006,  however, changes had taken place – the 40-49 age group decreased by 6 percentage points while the 25-39 increased by 4 percentage points.

Of those admitted in 2015, a majority (59%) were convicted of  narcotics offences, acquisitive offences or road traffic offences as a primary offence. Of these, the number convicted for acquisitive offences or road traffic offences declined by 4 per cent and 13 per cent, respectively, as compared with 2014. On the other hand, the number of persons admitted for narcotics offences increased by 7 per cent.

In 2015, 10,100 persons commenced noncustodial sentences with supervision, specifically persons who were sentenced to probation or conditionally paroled from institutions. This is a 4 per cent reduction as compared with 2014. As compared with 2006, the number of commenced noncustodial monitorings decreased by 22 per cent. There were 10,300 persons under supervision as of 1 October 2014, which is a 5 per cent reduction as compared with the same date the preceding year.

A total of 1,830 persons commenced intensive electronic monitoring (IÖV), which is a 3 per cent reduction as compared with 2014, and a 40 per cent reduction as compared with 2006. As of 1 October 2015, 251 individuals were serving prison sentences through intensive electronic supervision.

As of 1 October 2014, 1,630 persons were in detention centres, a 3 per cent reduction as compared with the preceding year.

Statistics for the prison and probation service

Recidivism

Number of persons who relapsed into crime within one, two, and three years for all persons with an initial event 2009, total and by gender. Source: Recidivism

Recidivism

The recidivism rate for all persons with an initial event in 2009 was 40 per cent within three years. The recidivism rate was 28 per cent for women and 43 per cent for men. The recidivism rate shows a slightly declining trend over time. Between 2003 and 2009, the number of relapses into crime within three years decreased by 2 percentage points. The risk of recidivism increases markedly in step with the number of previous convictions. The recidivism rate for persons with more than 9 previous convictions five years prior to an initial event in 2009 was 93 per cent. Among first-time offenders, the recidivism rate was 22 per cent. The recidivism pattern is stable over time.

The recidivism rate has decreased for almost all categories of sanctions since 2003 (refers to the most invasive sanction in the initial event). The greatest decrease can be seen among persons with forensic psychiatric care as the most invasive sanction in the initial event (-11 percentage points). However, there has been a clear decline during the period 2003-2009 also for those whose initial event led primarily to closed institutional youth care or waivers of prosecution. The number of recidivists has declined in both of these categories, by 8 and 9 percentage points respectively.

A multivariable analysis (regression analysis) essentially confirms the patterns presented by the statistics. Men relapse more often than women, the risk of recidivism increases with the number of previous convictions, and there is no difference over time. Men have a 53 per cent higher risk of recidivism than women, persons with more than 9 previous convictions run a 25 times greater risk of recidivism than first-time offenders.

The median number of days until first relapse was 8 months (244 days) in 2009. The differences between the sexes are small – 251 days for women and 242 days for men. The risk that a person will relapse into crime is greatest immediately after the initial event and declines progressively over time. The frequency of recidivism is more than halved during the first six months after release for persons who served a sanction which deprived them of liberty.

There were 34,700 persons with an initial event in 2009 who relapsed into crime. In total, they represented 220,000 relapses into crime within three years, which corresponds to an average of 6.3 recidivist offences per person. The number of recidivist offences is not evenly divided among recidivists. Those with at least 9 previous convictions represented only 8 per cent of all recidivists, but they represented 24 per cent of all recidivist offences during the period. Those who have a sanction entailing deprivation of liberty as a result of a recidivist event were often (54%) deprived of liberty on a previous occasion.

Statistics on recidivism

Definitions

¹) Reported offences

The statistic regarding reported offences includes all events which were reported and registered as offences with the Swedish Police, the Swedish Prosecution Authority, Swedish Customs, and the Swedish Economic Crimes Authority. The reported offences also include events which, following investigation, prove not to be offences.

²) Processed offences

As from the 2014 reporting year, a new statistic is being reported regarding processed offences. The new statistic is a revision and replacement of the statistic regarding of cleared offences. The statistic regarding processed offences reports offences reported to the police, public prosecutor, or other investigatory authority which has taken a decision during the reporting period (calendar year), which entails that the processing of the offence was completed.

Offences with person-based clearances are processed offences where a conviction decision has been made in respect of at least one person suspected of the offence. "Conviction decision" refers here to a decision to indict, issue a summary sanction order, or waive prosecution.  The person-based clearance rate reports the number of offences with person-related clearances during one year for all processed offences during the same period.

³) Persons suspected of offences

The statistic regarding persons suspected of offences reports (for one calendar year) regarding the persons who, following a completed investigation by the police, customs or public prosecutor, are deemed suspected of an offence. The term "offence participation" refers to a suspect's registered participation in a specific offence.

Prison and Probation Service

The statistic for the Prison and Probation Service reports regarding persons who:  

  • are admitted to prison service institutions;
  • are monitored by the Prison and Probation Services'  noncustodial organisation;
  • are admitted into detention centres.

Two standards of measurement, above all, are used to report monitored and admitted persons:

  • The number of persons admitted describes the number of persons who have begun to serve a prison sentence in an institution or through noncustodial monitoring during the year. The statistic reports number of events, which means that a person who has been admitted multiple times during the year are calculated multiple times.
  • The number of persons admitted as of 1 October describes how many individuals were actually admitted to institutions or noncustodial monitoring as of that date.   

Recidivism

The final statistic regarding recidivism describes the number of persons who relapse into a new convicted offence within one, two, and three years after an initial event and how that level develops over time. "Initial event" means release from a sanction entailing a deprivation of liberty or final judicial decision and other prosecutions in respect of noncustodial sanctions. The recidivism statistic thus also includes only the criminality which could be observed through a conviction, and it is important to remember that the statistic thus does not give a picture of recidivism which occurs in society.  

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