In 2015 the number of police reports with an identified hate crime motive was estimated to just over 6,980. In the hate crime statistics, published annually by the National Council for Crime Prevention (Brå), hate crimes with xenophobic/racist motives made up the largest proportion, followed by hate crimes motivated by sexual orientation.
Estimated number of of police reports with an identified hate crime motive, of which reports with xenophobic/racist motives, 2008–2015. Source: Hate Crime statistics
By hate crime is meant that a person is victimised because of their real or perceived ethnic background, race, skin colour or nationality, religious belief, sexual orientation or transgender identity or expression, or for being perceived as representing such a group of people. Although there might be disagreements concerning what should be included in the term hate crime, there is international consensus that such an incident is a result of lack of respect for human rights and peoples’ equal value.
It is difficult to grasp the extent of hate crime in society, since hate crime is not a specific criminal offence in the Penal Code but an aspect of the motives behind a crime. There is no specific crime code for the police to use when recording a hate crime in their computer system.
The hate crime statistics are based primarily on police reports with identified hate crime motives, but also include self-reported victimisation of hate crime based on data from the Swedish Crime Survey (SCS), the Swedish School Survey on crime (SUB) and the Politicians’ Safety Survey (PTU).
The surveys work as important supplements to the statistics on identified hate crime reports, since not all hate crimes are being reported to the police, nor can we rely on all reported hate crimes being identified for the statistics. The Swedish crime survey (SCS) is a victim survey from which the hate crime statistics annually obtain details on victimisation of xenophobic, homophobic and anti-religious hate crimes. The Swedish school survey on crime (SUB) studies participation in criminal behaviour, problem behaviour and some victimisation among pupils in the ninth grade (approximately fifteen years of age). Last survey is from 2012 and gave details on victimisation of xenophobic and anti-religious hate crimes. The Politicians' Safety Survey (PTU), available only in Swedish, studies victimisation among Sweden's elected politicians in their role as a politician and gives details on victimisation based on xenophobia/racism, anti-religious, sexual orientation or transphobia. The latest results from PTU to be found in this year's report, Hate Crime 2015, while the latest results from the SUB can be found in Hate crime 2013. SUB and PTU are not conducted every year.
Some countries keep no statistics on hate crime, while others present statistics on one or several hate crime motives. In Sweden the following hate crime motives are included:
Estimated number of of police reports with an identified hate crime motive, other motives, 2008–2015. Source: Hate Crime statistics
According to the Swedish Crime Survey 2015, approximately 107,000 individuals (1.4 per cent) of the population (16–79 years) stated that they were exposed to approximately 190,000 xenophobic hate crimes in 2014. Approximately 37,000 individuals (0.5 per cent) stating that they were exposed to 61,000 anti-religious hate crimes and approximately 17,000 individuals (0.2 per cent) stating that they were exposed to 25,000 homophobic hate crimes. It should be noted though, that particularly in respect to the last two motives the estimated numbers are uncertain due to a low number of respondents. Compared to previous years the level of victimisation can be viewed as relatively stable since the differences are not statistically significant.
According to The Politicians’ Safety Survey (PTU), 6.3 per cent of all the elected politicians who participated in the survey reported having been the victims of hate crime in their role as politicians in the year 2014. This is an increase compared to the last time the measurements were taken, in 2012, when 2.5 per cent stated that they had been victims of a hate crime. 2014 was a “super election year” since Sweden held general elections for the municipal, regional and county councils, the Swedish Parliament (Riksdag), and the European Parliament. This should be kept in mind when making comparisons between 2014 (PTU 2015) and the earlier survey for 2012 (PTU 2013). Results from 2014 should not necessarily be seen as an increase from 2012, but rather as a comparison between an election year and an intermediate year.
According to the Swedish School Survey on Crime 2012, 4.5 per cent of the responding pupils in the 9th grade (approximately 15 years of age) stated that they had been victims of a xenophobic hate crime in 2011 and 2.2 per cent had been victims of an anti-religious hate crime. About 2/3 of those being victim of an anti-religious hate crime and 1/3 of those being victim of a xenophobic hate crime stated that they had been victims of both motives. The study does not, however, show whether the double victimisation occurred on the same occasion or on separate occasions.
Of the police reports recorded in 2015, an estimated 6,984 were identified by Brå as having a hate crime motive. This is an 11 per cent increase compared to 2014 and 27 per cent higher compared to 2011.
The higher level of police reports with identified hate crime motives compared to 2014 is mostly a result of an increase of criminal dam-age/graffiti with xenophobic motives, but also an increase of the recently separated category otherwise anti-religious hate crimes. The category otherwise anti-religious hate crimes was, until this year’s report, featured with the Christianophobic motive in one combined chapter in the main report.
The proportional distribution of the various hate crime motives was almost the same in 2015 as in previous years, with only minor variations. The motives were distributed as follows:
Unlawful threat/non-sexual molestation was the most common type of crime in police reports with an identified hate crime motive from 2015, followed by criminal damage/graffiti and defamation. However, some crime types are more characteristic for certain motives. A comparison between different hate crime motives shows that the proportion of violent crimes was particularly high among offences with the Afrophobic and anti-Roma motives, but also for hate crimes concerning sexual orientation. The anti-Semitic motive included a larger proportion of agitation against a population group. In turn, unlawful discrimination was more common for the anti-Roma motive.
Hate crimes mainly occur in the context of the victim’s everyday life. The most common crime location in the identified hate crime reports from 2015 was a public place, such as streets, town squares or parks. In or around the victims own home or on the internet or through media were also common. It is worth mentioning that in over half of the identified hate crime reports (56 per cent) the offender was unknown to the victim.
Hate crime is not a typically urban phenomenon. Although the Stockholm police region showed the highest number of identified hate crime reports in 2015, hate crime cannot be said to occur primarily in the metropolitan counties. For example, 253 of Sweden’s 290 municipalities were noted down as location for an identified hate crime in 2015.
As of the year 2015, a change was made concerning the hate-crime clearance statistics. From April 2015, these statistics reflect processed police reports, i.e. police reports processed by the police or the prosecutor and the final decision on the principal offence in these reports. The change does not affect the person-based clearance statistics but has led to new categorizations of the other forms of final decision.
Police reports with an identified hate crime motive, recorded in 2014, have been followed up until 30 April 2016. The person-based clearance rate was 4 per cent, which means that in 4 per cent of the cases, a person had been linked to the offence by means of a decision to prosecute, by having accepted prosecutor fines or by having been granted waiver of prosecution. The person-based clearance rate was higher in relation to the Afrophobic motive (7 per cent) and lower in relation to the anti-Roma, anti-Semitic as well as the Christianophobic and otherwise anti-religious motives (3 per cent respectively).
Almost half (49 per cent) of the cases were closed after an investigation whereof 3 percentage points were due to limited investigation (the police and prosecutors are able to subject offence reports to a so-called investigation-limitation decision, which enables them to discontinue the processing of less serious offences in order to focus on more serious crimes). Somewhat fewer cases (46 per cent) were closed immediately, i.e. without an investigation having been initiated, whereof 6 percentage points were due to limited investigation. On 30 April 2016, 1 per cent of the reports were still under investigation. In total, an investigation was initiated in relation to 54 per cent of the reports.
Differences in clearance rates between the various motives could to some extent be explained by variations in typical offence types. For criminal investigations in general, some offences are regarded as being more difficult to investigate, and moreover to tie a suspect to, than others. For example, a violent crime committed in the presence of witnesses is regarded as being easier to investigate than a case of graffiti committed at night without witnesses. Unlawful discrimination can also be difficult to investigate or to prove, since such cases often involve one person’s word against another’s. However, without also analysing how police and prosecutors work with the investigations, conclusions about reasons behind the clearance rate cannot be drawn with certainty.
Unless another source is stated, the statistics are obtained from the 2015 hate crime statistic.