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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 2014 NTU, 12.7 per cent state that during 2013 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 an increase compared to previous years (in 2012, the percentage was 11.4%) 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, 2005-2013. Source: 2014 NTU

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, 2006-2013. Source: 2014 NTU.

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, 2014. Source: Reported offences

Reported offences

The most common offences which are reported are the different types of theft and break-ins. Approximately 38 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 18 per cent of the total number of offences reported¹. Offences against the person include, for example, assaults and sexual offences. Various types of vandalism, which comprise 11 per cent of the number of reported offences, are also very common. Offences under the Road Traffic Offences Act represent slightly more than 6 per cent of the total number of reported offences. Approximately 11 per cent of the total number of reported offences are fraud offences, and approximately 7 per cent are offences under the Narcotics Offences Act.

The most recent ten-year period is characterised by a reduction in theft offences by 13 percentage points over 2005-2014. The number of vandalism offences has decreased 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 3 percentage points, fraud offences increased by 6 percentage points, and narcotics offences increased by 2 percentage points.

Reported offences

Reported offences per 100,000 population, 1975–2014 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 (2005-2014) the number of reported offences increased by 199,000 offences (+16%). 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, diminished after the 1990s.

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 both the old definition calculated based on reported offences, and on the new definition (as from 2014) calculated based on the processed offences². Source: Processed offences

Processed offences

During 2014, 1,450,000 offences were processed². The majority (84%) of these were reported during the same year, while 13 per cent were reported during the preceding year. The remaining offences (3%) were reported prior to 2013. An investigation was conducted for 50 per cent of the processed offences. Of these, the largest categories of offences (by number of offences) were: (1) offences against the person and (2) theft and acquisitive offences.

The other processed offences (50%) 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 (165,000, or 32%). Almost half of these offences were offences against the person and narcotics offences.

During the year, 4% (52,400) 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 2014, were offences against the person, which comprised 25 per cent.

During 2014, person-based clearances² accounted for 212,000 processed offences. This is a somewhat higher level than the preceding year (+ 627 offences). The higher level is primarily explained by the changing definition of person-based clearances in the 2014 statistics. If one compares the levels of person-based clearances applying the earlier definition, one sees instead a reduction in the number of person-based clearances in 2014, by 21,000 offences or 1 per cent, as compared with the preceding year.

In terms of numbers, the reduction was primarily in respect of offences where prosecution had been commenced and a summary sanction order had been issued (-1,070 offences and -844 offences, respectively), while the number of waivers of prosecution declined by only 181 offences.

The interpretation of the number of person-based clearances in 2014 must take into consideration that the level, regardless of the definition used, is affected by a large number of matters involving sexual offences against children and Internet-related child pornography which, taken as a whole, resulted in approximately 1,050 decisions to prosecute during the year.

Of all processed offences, 15 per cent resulted in person-based clearances (the "person-based clearance rate"), which is the same percentage as in 2013. The result was not affected by the modified definition of the standard of measurement. The conviction decision rate, i.e. the percentage of person-based clearances among all investigated offences in 2014, was 31 per cent.

Statistics on processed offences

Persons suspected of offences

Number of persons suspected of offences, 2005-2014. Source: Persons suspected of offences

Persons suspected of offences

In 2014, 105,000 individuals were registered as suspected of committing offences³. This is a 2 per cent reduction as compared with the preceding year (-2,270 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 (-4%), and driving under the influence (-6%). The greatest increases can be noted among persons suspected of offences in the categories of narcotics offences (+4%) as well as theft offences and fraud, which increased by one per cent each.

In 2014, there were 20,400 women suspected of offences and 84,400 men. Women comprised 19 per cent of all persons suspected of offences. The rate of men has varied between 79-81 per cent during the most recent ten years.

The number of persons suspected of offences decreased in almost all age groups during 2014. In terms of rates, the reduction was the greatest in the 18-20 age group, which declined by 8 per cent. Young people suspected of offences in the 15-20 age group are overrepresented in proportion to the percentage of the total number of persons who are above the age of criminal responsibility. In 2014, 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 324,000 offences (known as "offence participations") in 2014. This gives an average of 3.1 offence participations for each person suspected of an offence during the year. The total number of offence participations increased by 2 per cent between 2013 and 2014. Increases can be seen in several categories of offences. The greatest increase was in fraud, which almost doubled during 2014 (+46%). 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 2014 was theft offences (24%), while for men the most common category was narcotics offences (21%). Narcotics offences are also the most common type of offence for person suspected of offences in the 15-20 age group. Slightly more than one-fourth (27%) 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, 2005-2014. Source: Persons found guilty of offences

Persons found guilty of offences

There were 110,000 convictions in 2014, which is a reduction of 6,730 decisions (6%) as compared with 2013. Court convictions declined by 6 per cent to 60,700, summary sanction orders declined by 6 per cent to 32,500 decisions, and waivers of prosecution declined by 5 per cent to 16,800 decisions.

Assault (including aggravated assault) and various types of road traffic offences represent a significant proportion of the reduction during 2014. As compared with 2013, the number of convictions with assault as the primary offence declined by 15 per cent to 6,400 decisions. Since 2005, the number of convictions involving assault have declined by 20 per cent.

Almost all types of sanctions issued by courts declined in 2014 as compared with 2013. The number of court convictions carrying a prison sentence as the primary sanction declined by 3 per cent to 10,900 convictions. This is thus the second year in a row with the lowest number of prison sentences since the beginning of the 1970s. Since the preceding year, the number of prison sentences declined primarily among shorter prison sentence groups of up to six months. The number of prison sentences has declined during the most recent ten-year period (2005-2014). 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 has increased from 8.5 months in 2005 to 8.8 months in 2014.

Of all convictions, 83 per cent (91,400 decisions) pertained to men and 17 per cent (18,600 decisions) pertained to women. The breakdown has been similar over the last ten years. The number of convictions has declined for all age groups as compared with 2013. In terms of numbers, the latest reduction is seen in the 30-49 age group, with 38,500 convictions in 2014. This corresponds to 2,700 fewer (7%) convictions.

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 2005-2014. Source: The Prison and Probation Service

Prison and Probation Service

In 2014, 8,940 persons were admitted to prison service institutions, which is approximately the same number (±0 %) as the preceding year. The number had, however, decreased by 16 per cent as compared with 2005. There were 4,320 persons admitted to institutions as of 1 October 2014, which is a 1 per cent reduction since 2013. The number has also declined in comparison with 1 October 2005 (-22%).

Of those persons admitted to prison service institutions during 2014, 7 per cent were women, and 93 per cent were men. This proportion has been stable during the most recent ten-year period.

Of those persons admitted during 2014, 40 per cent had a previous prison and probation service sentence which entailed a deprivation of liberty. This applied to 35 per cent of the admitted women and 40 per cent of the admitted men. As compared with 2013, the total number of admitted persons who had previously been deprived of liberty increased by 2 percentage points. However, as compared with 2005 the percentage had decreased by 6 percentage points.

Of those persons who were admitted during 2014, 4 per cent were 15-20 years of age, 14 per cent were 21-24 years of age, 34 per cent were 25-39 years of age, and 37 per cent were over 40 years of age. The age breakdown was essentially the same as the preceding year. As compared with 2005 there were, however, changes had taken place – the 40-49 age group decreased while the 21-29 and 50+ age groups increased.

Of those admitted in 2014, a majority (58%) were convicted of acquisitive offences, narcotics offences, or road traffic offences as a primary offence. Of these, the number convicted for acquisitive offences or road traffic offences declined by 5 per cent and 7 per cent, respectively, as compared with 2013. On the other hand, the number of persons admitted for narcotics offences increased by 13 per cent.

In 2014, 10,400 persons commenced noncustodial sentences with supervision, specifically persons who were sentenced to probation or conditionally paroled from institutions. This is a 7 per cent reduction as compared with 2013. As compared with 2005, the number of commenced noncustodial monitorings decreased by 18 per cent. There were 10,900 persons under supervision as of 1 October 2014, which is a 7 per cent reduction as compared with the same date the preceding year.

A total of 1,880 persons commenced intensive electronic monitoring (IÖV), which is a 6 per cent reduction as compared with 2013, and a 35 per cent reduction as compared with 2005. Above all, the number of commenced intensive electronic supervisions decreased for offences under the Road Traffic Offences Act. As of 1 October 2014, 240 individuals were serving prison sentences through intensive electronic supervision.

As of 1 October 2014, 1,670 persons were in detention centres, a 2 per cent increase 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 2003-2008. Source: Recidivism

Recidivism

The recidivism rate for all persons with an initial event in 2008 was 40 per cent within three years. The recidivism rate was 28 per cent for women and 42 per cent for men. The recidivism rate shows a slightly declining trend over time. Between 2003 and 2008, 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 2008 was 93 per cent. Among first-time offenders, the recidivism rate was 22 per cent. The recidivism pattern is stable over time.

The difference between the sexes decreases as previous convictions increase. In the category of first-time offenders, the difference is 7 percentage points (16 for women and 24 for men), and in the category of 9 or more previous convictions, the difference is 2 percentage points (91 for women and 93 for men). Recidivism varies among different age groups. For both the 18-20 age group and 21-39 age group with an initial event in 2008, 45 per cent relapsed into crime. For persons over 60 years of age with an initial event in 2008, 19 per cent relapsed into crime.

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 waivers of prosecution (-9 percentage points). However, there has been a clear decline during the period 2003-2008 also for those whose initial event led primarily to closed institutional youth care or forensic psychiatric care. The number of recidivists has declined by 7 percentage points in both of these categories.

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 51 per cent higher risk of recidivism than women, persons with more than 9 previous convictions have more than a 25 per cent greater risk of recidivism than first-time offenders.

The median number of days until first relapse was almost 8 months (243 days) in 2008. The differences between the sexes are small – 262 days for women and 239 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 33,500 persons with an initial event in 2008 who relapsed into crime. In total, they represented 217,000 relapses into crime within three years, which corresponds to an average of 6.5 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 (56%) 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.  

Facts


  • During 2014, 1.44 million offences were reported, which is an increase of 41,800 offences, or 3 per cent, as compared with the preceding year.

  • The categories of reported offences which increased most in terms of number of offences were offences against persons, vandalism, and road traffic offences. The individual types of offences which increased most in terms of number of offences between 2014 and 2013 were computer fraud, vandalism, bicycle theft, graffiti in public transit systems, and molestation of women aged 18 or older.

  • The increase in road traffic offences accounts for almost one-fourth of the increase for the total number of reported offences during 2014. The increase can be explained by the fact that the police, particularly in 2014, included even the minor finable Penal Code offence of leaving the scene of a parking damage with the more serious offence of leaving the scene of a traffic accident. Minor finable offences are usually not included in reported crime statistics, and the change means that the number of road traffic offences for 2014 cannot be compared to earlier years.

  • The categories of reported offences which decreased most in 2014 were tax offences and fraud offences. The individual types of offences which decreased most between 2014 and 2013 were hacking, supplying narcotics, extortion, welfare benefit offences against the Social Insurance Office, and pickpocketing.
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