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Rape and sexual offences

During 2014, 20,300 sex offences were reported, of which 6,700 were classified as rape. In the Swedish Crime Survey, 1.0 per cent of the respondents stated that they were exposed to sex offences during 2014.

Percentage exposed to sex offences

Exposure in the population (16–79 years of age) to sex offences, 2005 – 2014. Source: NTU

In the Swedish Crime Survey (NTU – Nationella trygghetsundersökningen), 1.0 per cent of the population (16 – 79 years of age), corresponding to approximately 76,000 persons, state that they had been exposed to sex offences. This is a decline as compared with 2013, when 1.3 per cent stated that they had been exposed. The level of sex offences remained relatively stable during the period 2005 – 2011, but the result for the past two years shows an increased level. However, the decline shown in the most recent measurement renders it difficult to analyse the trend.

Sex offences are a type of offence where repeated exposure is relatively common. Slightly less than half (42%) of the persons who were exposed to sex offences have been exposed more than once. Most (36%) have been exposed between two and nine times, and a smaller percentage (6%) have been exposed ten times or more. The estimated number of incidents is 282,000, which is significantly fewer than the preceding year but at a level with previous years' results. It is important to note that sex offences comprise a broad spectrum of offences – everything from minor incidents, such as indecent exposure, to very serious incidents, such as rape.

It is likely that these different types of sex offences differ in respect of crime scene and relationship to the perpetrator. Moreover, as a result of the sensitive nature of the question, it is likely that the NTU fails to fully include the incidents which are the intended subject of the survey.

Gender and age

Significantly more women than men have been exposed to sex crimes; 1.8 per cent of women and 0.3 per cent of men state that they were exposed to sex crimes during 2014. For men, the percentage of victims has remained at approximately the same level throughout the period. For women, sex offences were at a relatively stable level during the period 2005 – 2011 but the result for the past two years shows a higher level. However, the decline shown in the most recent measurement renders it difficult to analyse the trend.

Age

Exposed to sex offences, 2014. Percentage for each age group. Source: NTU

Exposure to sex offences is most common among the two youngest age groups (16 – 19 years of age and 20 – 24 years of age), where the percentage of victims is 2.6 per cent and 2.8 per cent, respectively. For women, exposure diverges relatively dramatically between the age groups (0.1% – 5.0%), and since exposure has increased in the two youngest groups, the divergence has increased. Men state that they have been exposed to sex offences at almost the same (relatively low) level (0.1% – 0.5%), regardless of age group. The most exposed persons are women between 16 and 24 years of age, of whom 5.0 per cent state that they had been exposed to sex offences during 2014.

Victimisation of different groups in respect of sex offences

As is the case for the majority of other offences against the person, exposure to sex offences appears to be more common in certain groups of the population. Single persons with or without children are exposed to a greater extent than persons living in a couple with or without children (2.0% and 1.8%, respectively, as compared with 0.3% and 0.6%, respectively). Persons with not more than a compulsory level of education are also more exposed than persons with an upper secondary level of education or post-upper secondary level of education (1.3% as compared with 0.9% and 1.0%, respectively). Residents of multiple dwelling blocks are exposed to a greater extent than residents of detached or semi-detached dwellings (1.5% as compared with 0.6%). Exposure to sex offences is more common among persons living in major metropolitan regions (1.2%) as compared with those who live in small towns or in rural areas (0.8%). The percentage of persons exposed to sex offences is higher among persons born in Sweden with two parents born abroad (1.4%) than persons born abroad and persons born in Sweden with at least one parent born in Sweden (0.9% and 1.0%, respectively).

Statistical analyses show that when one corrects for the effect of other background factors, such as age and gender, the difference in exposure for sex offences in groups with different levels of education disappears. However, the difference between various family constellations remains.

Crime scene

Type of crime scene for sex offences, 2014. Percentage of the total number of reported incidents by crime scene. Source: NTU

Circumstances surrounding sex offences

Since very few sex offences against men were reported to the NTU, neither the crime scene nor the relationship to the perpetrator of the sex offence is broken down between men and women. Slightly more than half of the number of sex offences (53%) occurred in a public place, and approximately every fifth incident (18%) occurred at a workplace or school. An equal number of incidents occurred in residences or another location (15% and 14%, respectively). The breakdown of crime scene for sex offences has varied somewhat throughout the years and there is no clear trend over time.

Relationship to the perpetrator

Relationship to the perpetrator in conjunction with sex offences, 2005 – 2014. Percentage of the total number of reported incidents by each form of relationship. Source: NTU

In 63 per cent of the cases, the perpetrator was completely unknown to the victim, in 25 per cent of the cases the perpetrator was an acquaintance, and in 11 per cent of the cases the perpetrator was a closely-related person. The breakdown in respect of the relationship to the perpetrator in conjunction with sex offences has varied somewhat over the years since the survey began, and it is not possible to discern any clear trend in the results. One should be aware that just as is the case with threat and assault offences, there is reason to believe that incidents where persons have been exposed to sex offences by a closely-related person, often in the home, are underrepresented in the survey. This type of exposure may be experienced as particularly sensitive and it thus may be difficult to gain information about it through a questionnaire.

Reported sex offences

Number of reported sex offences: all reported offences, of which sexual molestation, rape (including aggravated), and sexual coercion, exploitation, etc. Source: Reported offences

Reported offences

In 2014, a total of 20,300 sex offences were reported; this is a 15 per cent increase as compared with 2013. Reported offences of rape, sexual coercion, exploitation, and sexual molestation represented 88 per cent of the offences in the sex offence category. Reported rape offences increased by 11 per cent to 6,700 reported offences between 2013 and 2014. Reported offences of sexual coercion, exploitation etc., and sexual molestation also increased, to 1,520 offences and 9,640 offences, respectively (+20% and +10%, respectively) as compared with the preceding year.

The number of reported rape offences has increased since 2005. The increase can be partially explained by the entry into force of new sex offence legislation on 1 April 2005. This legislation entails, among other things, that certain acts which were previously classified as sexual exploitation are now classified as rape. The effect of the statutory change appeared in the statistics such that the number of reported offences in respect of sexual coercion and exploitation declined in the years immediately following the statutory change while the number of reported rapes increased. As from 1 July 2013, the sex offence legislation was again made tougher; among other things rape was expanded to include cases where the victim reacts passively.

After 2007, the number of reported offences in regard of sexual coercion and exploitation remained at a relatively unchanged level until 2013, when the number of offences again increased. The number of reported rapes also increased in 2014. Individual reports regarding a great number of offences may affect and give rise to variations in the statistic. Non-reporting is particularly extensive for sex offences and changes in the inclination to report can also affect the number of rapes in the statistic.

A total of 3,170 rape offences against children aged 0 to 17 years of age were reported. In 92 per cent of the cases (2,910 reported offences), the victims were girls. In 2014, 9,640 sexual molestation offences were also reported, of which 946 (10%) were exhibitionism (indecent exposure) offences. As from 2014, other types of sexual molestation are reported, broken down by gender and age. In 91 per cent of the cases (7,910 reported offences) the victim was a girl (3,720 reported offences) or a woman (4,200 reported offences).

International comparisons

There are no international standards for how crime statistics should be produced and presented and this makes international comparisons difficult. Keep in mind that comparisons between countries on the basis of crime statistics require caution since such statistics are produced differently in different countries. Criminal statistics do not provide a simple reflection of the level of crime in a given country. Criminal statistics are influenced by both legal and statistical factors, and by the extent to which crime is reported and registered. These factors can vary from one country to another.

Cleared rapes

Person-based clearance rate² for rape offences. Source: Processed offences

Processed offences

In 2014, 6,790 rape offences were processed¹. Investigations were commenced for 94 per cent (6,370 offences) of the processed rape offences, while 6 per cent (421 offences) were dismissed with no investigation. Investigations were limited for a small number of rape offences (11 offences).

There was at least one person registered as suspected for 62 per cent (4,200) of the processed rape offences. Of these, there were person-based clearances for 1,360 offences. The person-based clearance rate² for rape offences in 2014 was 20 per cent, which corresponds to an increase of four percentage points as compared with 2013.

Compared with the 2005 level, the person-based clearance rate² for rape offences declined by 2 percentage points. However, the level has been characterised by significant annual variations during the most recent ten years. The decline in 2007 is partially a result of the new matter management system which the public prosecutor implemented that year, while the increases in 2008, 2009, and 2012 can be explained by a number of major matters those years.

The conviction rate² was 21 per cent for the same year. Since investigations were commenced for most processed rape offences, the conviction and person-based clearance rates are essentially at the same level.

Persons suspected of rape

All persons suspected of rape, 2005 – 2014. Source: Persons suspected of offences

Persons suspected of offences

There were 1,010 persons suspected of rape in 2014. This is a reduction by 57 persons, or 5 per cent, as compared with 2013. The number of persons suspected of rape has increased since 2005, from 613 persons to a high of 1,130 persons during 2010. To a certain extent, the increase can probably be attributed to the new sex offence legislation which entered into force on 1 April 2005. This legislation entails, among other things, that certain acts which were previously categorised as sexual exploitation are now categorised as rape.

Persons found guilty of sex offences

Number of conviction decisions of sex offences as the primary offence, 2004 – 2013. Note that new sex offence legislation entered into force on 1 April 2005. Source: Persons found guilty of offences


Convictions

There were 1,170 conviction decisions3 in 2013 in respect of sex offences, corresponding to a reduction by 4 per cent, or 50 decisions, as compared with 2012. The greatest decrease was a 25 per cent (81 decisions) decrease in convictions for purchase of sexual services. Purchase of sexual services is regarded as a surveillance offence, and it is therefore not uncommon that the conviction statistic is affected by variations in police prioritisation in respect of resources and surveillance.

The number of conviction decisions³ for different types of sex offences has increased by 47 per cent, corresponding to a numerical increase of 374 decisions, in ten years (2004 – 2013). Conviction trends in respect of sex offences during the most recent ten-year period must be seen in light of the new sex offence legislation which entered into force in 2005.

Of the 1,170 conviction decisions in respect of sex offences in 2012, 178 had rape (including aggravated rape) as the primary offence. This is a weak increase – 7 conviction decisions, or 4 per cent – as compared with the preceding year. During 2004 – 2013, the number of conviction decisions in respect of rape as the primary offence increased by 25 decisions, or 16 per cent.

In 2013, there were 134 conviction decisions of rape of a child (including aggravated rape of a child). This is a reduction by 15 decisions, or 10 per cent, as compared with the preceding year.

The increase in the number of conviction decisions in respect of rape during the period (2005 – 2008) can in part be explained by the new sex offence legislation which entered into force on 1 April 2005. The statutory change entails, among other things, an expansion of the provision regarding rape, and thus a number of acts which were previously categorised as sexual exploitation were deemed rape. The new legislation also added a separate provision for rape of a child (section 4), and these acts were previously included in the offences of rape and sexual exploitation of a minor. Taken as a whole, these changes make it difficult to compare the number of rape convictions over time.


¹) The statistic for processed offences reports the number of reported offences where the police, public prosecutor, or other investigatory authority has taken a decision regarding the offence.

²) Person-based clearance means that a person suspected of the offence has been tied to the offence through an indictment, the issuance of a summary sanction order, or the issuance of a waiver of prosecution. The person-based clearance rate reports the number of offences with person-based clearances during one year as a percentage of the number of processed offences during the same year. As from 2014, an adjusted person-based clearance rate is reported. The metric is essentially structured in the same way as previously, however, it is calculated based on all processed offences instead of all reported offences. The conviction rate reports the number of person-based clearances during one year as a per cent of all investigated offences, excluding offences with limitations of investigation during the same period.

³) The statistic regarding persons found guilty of offences reports the number of convictions which were issued during the year. "Conviction decision" means a conviction in a district court or decision of a public prosecutor, such as a summary sanction order or waiver of prosecution, during one calendar year. A single individual may be found guilty of an offence in different ways and on several occasions during one year. A conviction decision may contain decisions regarding several offences and several sanctions.

Facts

  • 20,300 sex offences reported to the police (2014)
  • 1,170 conviction decisions in respect of sex offences (2013)
  • 98 per cent of those suspected of sex offences are men (2013)
  • 15 per cent of sex offences take place in the home of the victim or perpetrator (2014)
  • 20 per cent = person-based clearance rate2 for rape (2014)
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