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Hate crime

In 2012 the number of police reports with an identified hate crime motive was estimated to 5,518. 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 with a homo-, bi- or heterophobic motive.

By hate crime is meant that a person is victimized because of their real or perceived ethnic background, skin colour or nationality, religious belief, sexual orientation or transgender identity or expression, or for been 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 the hate crime problem, 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. Since 2008 however, there is a field in the reporting system (RAR) whereby the police can mark a report as containing a suspected hate crime.

What does the hate crime statistics consist of? The main part of the hate crime statistics consists of police reports with an identified hate crime motive. The motive is primarily assessed on details from the narrative text in the report. The method for capturing these reports changed in 2012, from examining all reports concerning a number of specific crime codes, to a sample study of eligible reports. The sample size is about 50 per cent (48.4 per cent in 2012 to be precise). More information on the method and the change in methodology can be found in the English summary of the report. The change to a sample study means that all figures for 2012 are estimates.

The hate crime statistics also consists of self-reported victimization of hate crime, based on two surveys. 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 obtain details on victimization of xenophobic, homophobic and anti-religious hate crimes. The Swedish school survey on crime (SUB) studies participation in criminal behaviour, problem behaviour and some victimization among pupils in the ninth grade (approximately fifteen years of age), and gives details on victimization of xenophobic and anti-religious hate crimes. The school survey is a new data source in the hate crime statistics for 2012.

What motives are included in the hate crime statistics?

Some countries hold 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:

  • Xenophobia/racism
  • Afrophobia
  • Anti-Roma
  • Islamophobia
  • Anti-Semitism
  • Christianophobia
  • Other anti-religious
  • Homophobia
  • Biphobia
  • Heterophobia
  • Transphobia

Levels of victimization stable over time, but double victimization is common

According to the Swedish crime survey 2012, 1.2 per cent (approximately 86,000 individuals) of the population (16–79 years) stated that they were exposed to xenophobic hate crimes in 2011. The equivalent for anti-religious and homophobic hate crimes were 0.4 per cent (28,000 individuals) and 0.2 per cent (13,000 individuals). 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 victimization of xenophobic and homophobic hate crimes can be viewed as relatively stable. (No comparison is possible for the anti-religious motive since it was included for the first time in 2012.)

Details from the Swedish school survey on crime 2012 suggest that double victimization is common. Of the responding pupils in the 9th grade (approximately 15 years of age), 4.5 per cent stated that they had been victims of xenophobic hate crimes in 2011 and 2.2 per cent had been victims of anti-religious hate crimes. However, 1.5 per cent stated that they in 2011 had been victims of both xenophobic and anti-religious hate crimes. That is 1/3 of those exposed to xenophobic hate crimes, and 68 per cent of those exposed to anti-religious hate crimes.

A generally decreasing trend among police reports with identified hate crime motives, but not for all motive categories

Of the police reports registered in 2012, an estimated 5,518 were identified by Brå as having a hate crime motive. This represents the same level as in 2011 but a decrease of 6 per cent compared to 2008. Viewed over the past five years, the decreasing trend is most evident for reports with a homophobic hate crime motive (a 34 per cent decline), while reports with anti-Semitic, Afrophobic and anti-Roma motives show an increasing trend (a 39, 24 and 21 per cent increase respectively).

Xenophobic/racist hate crimes most common

In 2012, as well as previous years, most hate crime reports were identified as being xenophobic and/or racist. Of little less than the estimated 3,980 xenophobic/racist hate crimes in 2012, 940 were considered to be Afrophobic and almost 220 anti-Roma. Additionally, homo-, bi- and heterophobic motives were identified in just over 710 reports, Islamophobic in little more than 300, christianophobic or anti-religious in almost 260, anti-Semitic in just over 220 and transphobic in just over 40 reports.

Unlawful threat/non-sexual molestation most common type of crime

Unlawful threat/non-sexual molestation is the most common type of crime, followed by violent crimes and defamation. However, some crime types are more characteristic for certain motives. Hate speech, for instance, is more common for anti-Semitic and Islamophobic hate crimes. Violent crimes are over-represented among homophobic and Afrophobic hate crimes, while unlawful discrimination is more common among anti-Roma crimes. Criminal damage and graffiti is the most common crime type for the christianophobic motive.

Hate crimes often occur in everyday situations

Hate crimes for the most part occur in the context of the victims´ everyday life. The most common crime location in the identified hate crime reports from 2012 was a public place, such as streets, town squares or parks. Own homes and workplaces were also common, as were other places such as shopping centres, shops and fast food restaurants/cafés. In addition, over the years more crimes have come to be committed on the internet. It is also worth mentioning that in over half of the identified hate crimes (59 per cent) the offender was unknown to the victim.

Hate crimes occur in the whole of Sweden

Hate crime is not a typically urban phenomenon. Although the county of Stockholm show the highest number of identified hate crime reports, hate crime cannot be said to occur primarily in the metropolitan counties. After Stockholm, when the mean population size is taken into consideration, Södermanland, Örebro, Skåne, Uppsala, Västmanland and Dalarna are the counties with the most identified hate crime reports (between 52 and 85 reports per 100,000 population).

Most cases are cleared, but there is a linked suspect in only a few

Of all identified hate crime reports from 2011, 66 per cent had been cleared in the beginning of April 2013; 60 per cent on technical grounds and 6 per cent person-based. By person-based is meant that a suspect has been linked to the crime through a decision to prosecute, acceptance of prosecutor fines or the granting of waiver of prosecution. Person-based clearances were lower for anti-Roma hate crimes (2 per cent) and higher for afrophobic (8 per cent). By technical grounds is meant that decision has been taken to close the investigation, for example because the incident has been found not to constitute a crime, the investigation cannot continue due to insufficient evidence, or the suspect is under the age of legal responsibility (15 years of age). Clearance on technical grounds was lower for anti-Semitic crimes (35 per cent) and higher for anti-Roma (75 per cent). The proportion of unresolved cases in the beginning of April 2013 was 34 per cent. A few were actively ongoing, while most lacked leads or suspects. The proportion of unresolved cases was lower for anti-Roma and afrophobic hate crimes (23 and 29 per cent respectively) and higher for anti-Semitic (58 per cent).

Differences in clearance rates between the various motives could to some extent be explained by variations in typical crime types. For crime investigations in general some crimes are regarded as more difficult to investigate, and moreover to link a suspect to, than others. For example, a violent crime committed before witnesses is regarded easier to investigate than graffiti performed at night without witnesses. Unlawful discrimination can also be difficult to investigate or to prove, as the case often is a matter of words against words.


  • 5,518 (est.) reports with an identified hate crime motive in 2012.
  • 72 per cent (almost 3,980 reports) were motivated by xenophobia/racism (of which 940 were Afrophobic and almost 220 anti-Roma).
  • 13 per cent (just over 710 reports) were motivated by homophobia, biphobia and heterophobia.
  • 6 per cent (almost 310 reports) were motivated by Islamophobia.
  • 5 per cent (almost 260 reports) were motivated by christianophobia or were otherwise anti-religious.
  • 4 per cent (just over 220 reports) were motivated by anti-Semitism.
  • 1 per cent (just over 40 reports) was motivated by transphobia.
  • 6 per cent of the hate crimes identified in 2011 had been cleared up on personal basis by the beginning of April 2013.
  • 1.2 per cent of the population (16–79 years) in Sweden (approximately 86,000 persons) stated in the Swedish crime survey that they had been victim of xenophobic hate crimes in 2011.
  • 0,4 per cent of the population (16–79 years) in Sweden (approximately 28,000 persons) stated in the Swedish crime survey that they had been victim of anti-religious hate crimes in 2011.
  • 0.2 per cent of the population (16–79 years) in Sweden (approximately 13,000 persons) stated in the Swedish crime survey that they had been victim of xenophobic hate crimes in 2011.
  • 4.5 per cent of pupils 15 years of age stated in the Swedish school survey on crime that they had been victim of xenophobic hate crimes in 2011.
  • 2.2 per cent of pupils 15 years of age stated in the Swedish school survey on crime that they had been victim of anti-religious hate crimes in 2011.

​Data from the hate crime statistics 2012.

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