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Crime trends in Sweden

Many offences are never reported to the police.

Many offences are never reported to the police.

Providing information about crime trends in Sweden is an important task for the Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention (Brå). Many offences are never even detected, much less reported to the police.

Reported offences

Reported offences per 100,000 population, 1975–2014 Source: Reported offences

Almost half of all reported crime involves various kinds of theft and vandalism. But that does not necessarily mean that that kind of crime is the most common; in spite of everything, some types of crime tend not to be reported. If these crimes — which are unknown to the police — are also counted, then it is probably traffic offences and drug crimes that are the most common.

There has been a continuous increase in reported offences since 1975. However, the average growth rate, i.e., the percentage change from year to year, has declined somewhat after the 1990s.

But the fact that the number of reported crimes has risen does not necessarily mean that the actual amount of crime has increased. Supplementary crime victim surveys such as the Swedish Crime Survey, however, give the same indication as the reported crime: that the actual amount of many different kinds of crime has increased.

Various factors have contributed to the increase in the number of reported crimes in the post-war period. The main reason is an improved standard of living that has increased the availability of goods that are attractive to thieves combined with a reduced social control between people. This has created increased opportunities for crime. But other things that might have affected the level of reported crime in the statistics are variations in people's tendency to report crime and changes in statistics procedures.

The most common crimes  

Various types of theft and burglary are the most common crimes to be reported. Nearly 40 percent of all reported crime can be included in this category. Amongst these so-called acquisitive crimes are car thefts and shoplifting.    

Also very common are various sorts of vandalism, which amount to 12 percent of the number of reported crimes. Crime against individuals — particularly violent crime — accounts for 18 percent of the total number of reported crimes. Crimes against individuals include things such as assault and sex offences. Crimes against the Road Traffic Offences Act (trafikbrottslagen) have increased and now stand for just over 6 percent of the total number of reported crimes. Approximately 8 percent of the total number of reported crimes consists of fraud and about 6 percent are crimes against the Narcotic Drugs Act (narkotikastrafflagen).

Facts

  • 1.4 million offences were reported in 2013. This was basically the same level as the previous year.
  • Crime categories that showed the largest decease in 2013 included vandalism, theft and offences against the person.
  • During the same period, there wa an increase in the number of reported road traffic offenses, fraud offences and narcotics offences.
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