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Violence and assault

During 2015, approximately 85,100 assault offences were reported in Sweden. In the Swedish Crime Survey, 2 per cent of the respondents stated that they had been exposed to assault in 2015.

Percentage exposed to assault

Percentage of individuals in the population (16–79 years of age) exposed to assault, of which serious assault (which required some form of medical care), 2005 – 2015 Source: NTU.

In the Swedish Crime Survey, 2 per cent of the population (16 – 79 years of age), corresponding to approximately 150,000 persons, stated that they had been exposed to assault during 2015. This is roughly the same level as 2014, when 2.1 per cent stated that they had been exposed. The trend for assault offences showed a weak decline during the measurement period. The percentage of victims has declined by 0.7 percentage points since the survey began in 2005. Based on the survey, the number of assault incidents during 2015 can be calculated at 317,000.

Approximately 0.4 per cent of the population (or 31,000 persons) state that the assault was sufficiently serious to result in a visit to a doctor, nurse, or dentist. This level has been relatively stable since measurement began in 2005. Based on the survey, the number of assault incidents which may thus be regarded as serious can be calculated at approximately 58,000.

Most persons who were exposed to assault (71%) state that it was an isolated incident. Slightly more than one in four persons (26%) were exposed to between two and nine offences, and a small percentage (4%) state that they were exposed to 10 or more assault offences during 2015.

Gender

Percentage of individuals in the population (16–79 years of age) exposed to assault, based on gender, 2005 – 2015 Source: SCS.

Gender and age

Each time measurements have been taken, a greater percentage of men than women stated that they were exposed to assault offences; in this year's measurement the figures were 2.5 per cent of men and 1.5 per cent of women. Since exposure to assault has declined among men since 2007 and, at the same time, has been relatively unchanged in respect of women, the difference between the genders in respect of exposure has gradually declined. Men are also more exposed to serious assault than women; however the percentage of exposed persons is so low it is not possible to discern any clear trends.

Repeated exposure to assault is equally common for men and women (0.6% of the population for men and 0.5% for women). The reason is that despite the fact that exposure per se to assault is less common for women, repeated assault is more common for women who have been exposed as compared with exposed men. However, in this context it is important to underscore that women's exposure to assault is probably underestimated to a higher degree than that for men, since women are more often victimised by a closely-related person (which earlier studies have shown to be a factor which contributes to underreporting).


Age

Exposed to assault, 2015. Percentage for each age group Source: SCS

The differences between the age groups are very significant. In parity with the results from preceding years, persons in the 20 – 24 age group show the highest percentage of persons exposed to assault (4.7%). The percentage then declines as the age of the studied group increases. For persons in the 25 – 34 and 35 – 44 age groups, 3.0 per cent have been assaulted. The lowest percentages of exposed persons are in the oldest age groups, specifically 65 – 74 years of age and 75 – 79 years of age (0.5% and 0.3%, respectively). If the age groups are broken down by gender, it is clear that young men in the 16 – 24 age group are much more likely to have been exposed to assault; 5.0 per cent were exposed to assault during 2015. The trend over time for this age group has shown a steady decline, with the exception of 2013. The pattern is similar for women, albeit not as clear. Among those with the highest percentage of exposed are young women in the 16 – 24 age group. However, in this years measurement the difference is mariginal compared to the 25 – 44 age group.

Victimisation of different groups in respect of assault

Persons with a post-upper secondary level of education state that they have been exposed to assault (1.5%) to a lesser extent than those with not more than a compulsory level of education or upper secondary level of education (2.2% and 2.3%, respectively). Single persons, with or without children, are exposed to assault a greater extent (5.4% and 3.0%, respectively) than persons living in a couple relationship, with or without children (1.4% and 1.0%, respectively). Residents of multiple dwelling blocks were exposed to assault to a greater extent than residents of detached or semi-detached dwellings (2.7% as compared with 1.2%).

In previous measurements, persons born in Sweden with two parents born abroad have stated that they have been exposed to assault to a greater extent than persons born abroad or persons born in Sweden with at least one parent born in Sweden. This year, the levels of exposure are almost the same in these three groups (around 2%). This also applies to residential locality. Almost all the previous measurements have shown that residents of smaller cities or rural areas are exposed to lesser extent than residents of major metropolitan regions and other large cities. Contrary to this, in the latest measurement residents of rural areas are the most exposed (2,2%), whereas residents of major metropolitan regions are the least exposed (1.8%). Among residents of other large cities, 2.0% were exposed.

Where serious assualt is concerned however, the pattern is reversed, and residents of major metropolitan regions are exposed to a somewhat higher degree (0.6%) than residents of other large cities (0.4%), or smaller cities and rural areas (0.2%).

Statistical analyses show that the differences in exposure for women remain in respect of those with post-upper secondary education and those with only a compulsory level education when correction is made for the effect of other background factors, such as age. The difference in exposure between persons who live in various types of family constellations also remains when one corrects for the effect of the other background factors.

Crime scene

Type of crime scene for assault, 2015. Percentage of the total number of reported incidents by location. Source: SCS

Circumstances surrounding assault

Public places are the most common type of crime scene for assault. This is followed by work/school. The least common crime scene in which assault offences occur is the residence of the victim, perpetrator, or another person, or in another place. However, the differences between the genders are significant.

Exposed women state, to a significantly higher degree than do exposed men, that they have been exposed to assault in a residence (51% as compared with 13%). Men are exposed to assault in which the crime scene is a public place in more than half of the cases (62%), while the corresponding percentage for women is roughly one-fifth (18%). A crime scene in a workplace or a school is more common for women exposed to assault than it is for the men  (27% and 17%, respectively).

Relationship to the perpetrator

Relationship to the perpetrator in conjunction with assault, 2015. Incidents as a percentage of the total number of incidents, based on gender. Source: SCS

In slightly fewer than half of the assault offences (47%), those who were exposed have stated that the perpetrator was completely unknown. In close to one-third of the cases (29%) the perpetrator was an acquaintance, and in 24 per cent of the cases the perpetrator was a closely-related person. However, the breakdown is different for women and men. For women, it was more common for the perpetrator to be a closely-related person (45%), somewhat less common that the perpetrator was an acquaintance (36%) and even less common for the perpetrator to be unknown (18%). Among men, it was most common for the perpetrator to be completely unknown (66%). In one-quarter of the incidents, the perpetrator was an acquaintance (25%), and in 10 per cent of the incidents the perpetrator was a closely-related person.

The results over time indicate that, as a rule, men are exposed to assault by an unknown person in a public place, while assault against women takes place more often in private life or work life. The differences are probably even greater since there is reason to suspect that violence in private life is underreported.

The presence of alcohol and drugs is common in conjunction with assault. In over half of the assault cases (57%), the exposed person has had the impression that the perpetrator was under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and in close to one in three cases (31%), the victim says that they were personally under the influence of alcohol at the time. There is a great difference between men and women in respect of the question of whether the perpetrator seems to have been under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

In 73 per cent of the cases where a man was assaulted, he has stated that the perpetrator was under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The corresponding percentage for assault against women is 32 per cent. There are also significant differences between men and women (40% as compared with 16%) as to whether the victim was personally under the influence of alcohol at the time of the assault. This difference is related, in part, to the fact that assault against men takes place more often in the context of entertainment activities, while assault against women takes place more often at the workplace or in the home.

Reported assault

Number of reported assault offences: all reported offences, of which against men 18 years of age and older, against women 18 years of age and older, and against children, 0 – 17 years of age. Until 2007, assault against children 15 – 17 years of age was reported together with assault against men and women 18 years of age and older. Accordingly, comparisons in these categories cannot be made for 2005 – 2007. Source: Reported offences

Reported offences

A total of 85,100 assault offences were reported in 2015; this is a 2 per cent increase as compared with 2014. The reported assault offences increased gradually between 2006 and 2011, and then declined until 2013. In 2015, 10 per cent more assault offences were reported than in 2006.

Assault against persons 18 years of age and older are reported in the crime statistic based on gender, whether the perpetrator is known or unknown to the victim, and whether the offence took place indoors or outdoors. The most common type of offence for reported assault against women 18 years of age and older is assault indoors by an acquaintance, while for men 18 years of age and older the most reported assault is outdoors by an unknown person.

During 2015, there were 29,000 assault offences against women 18 years of age and older, corresponding to a 2 per cent increase as compared with the preceding year. Of these assaults, 18,300 were assault offences which took place indoors by an acquaintance. This was a 2 per cent increase as compared with the preceding year.

During 2015, there were 35,300 assault offences reported against men 18 years of age and older, which is 1 per cent less than 2014. Approximately 14,600 reported offences were assault outdoors by an unknown person. This corresponds to a 3 per cent reduction as compared with the preceding year.

In 2015, a total of 20,800 assault offences against children were reported.

Cleared assault offences

Person-based clearance rate² for assault (including aggravated, not with a lethal outcome). Source: Processed offences

Processed offences

In 2015, 85,200 assault offences were processed¹. An investigation was commenced for the majority of the processed offences (86%, or 73,600 offences), while the other 14 per cent (11,600 offences) were dismissed with no investigation. Investigation was limited in a total of 1 per cent (889) of the processed assault offences, and in the majority after investigation was commenced.

There was at least one person registered as suspected of the offence for 59 per cent (50,700) of the processed assault offences. The person-based clearance rate² for assault offences in 2015 was 13 per cent. the same number as the preceding year. The level has declined by 5 percentage points over the most recent ten years. The decline has been ongoing since 2010.

The conviction rate for assault offences the same year was 15 per cent.

Persons suspected of assault

All persons suspected of assault (including aggravated, not with a lethal outcome), of which person suspected of assault against men 18 years of age and older, against women 18 years of age and older, and against children, 0 – 17 years of age. Until 2007, assault against children 15 – 17 years of age was reported together with assault against men and women 18 years of age and older. Accordingly, comparisons in these categories cannot be made for 2005 – 2007. Source: Persons suspected of offences

Persons suspected of offences

Assault represents the largest offence category among persons suspected of offences. In 2015, 13,300 persons were registered as suspected of assault offences. The number of suspected persons increased by 174 persons, or 1 per cent, as compared with 2014. As compared with 2006, the number of suspected persons declined by 1,200 persons, or 8 per cent.

Persons found guilty of offences of assault

Number of conviction decisions of assault as the primary offence (including aggravated assault and exceptionally aggravated assault offences), 2006 – 2015. Source: Persons found guilty of offences

Convictions

Assault constitutes the largest category of offence among conviction decisions³ of violent offences. In 2015, 6,300 conviction decisions were issued of assault as the primary offence, which is a reduction of 104 decisions, or 2 per cent, as compared with the preceding year. The number of conviction decisions of assault has also declined as compared with 2006, by a total of 2,490 decisions or 28 per cent. During the years 2004 – 2008, the number of conviction decisions of assault increased continually. With the exception of a few years, the trend since 2008 has been characterised by a reduction in the number of decisions, only to level out in the last two years.

When acts such as assault, unlawful threat, molestation, and so forth constitute a step in repeated violations of integrity, they can be categorised as aggravated violation of a woman's integrity or aggravated violation of integrity. In 2015, there were 49 conviction decisions of aggravated violation of a woman's integrity as the primary offence and 66 conviction decisions of aggravated violation of integrity as the primary offence.

The number of convictions for aggravated violation of a woman's integrity and aggravated violation of integrity declined by 34 and 23 decisions, respectively, or 19 per cent and 26 per cent, respectively, between 2014 and 2015. The number of decisions regarding aggravated violation of a woman's integrity has declined by 194 decisions, or 57 per cent, since 2006. During the same period, the number of conviction decisions in respect of aggravated violation of integrity increased by 75 decisions, or 53 per cent.

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.

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