Reported offences

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Total number of reported offences
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In 2020 approximately 1,570,000 offences were reported to the police, the customs authority or the prosecution service. This represents an increase of 18,500 reported offences by comparison with the figure for 2019.

Reported offences 2020

Lethal violence

Murder, manslaughter, and assault with a lethal outcome are usually jointly designated lethal violence. In 2020, 124 cases of lethal violence were confirmed in Sweden. The average of lethal violence for the last ten years is 100 cases per year

Lethal violence 2020

Processed offences

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Processed offences
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1,620,000 offences were processed in Sweden in 2020, which represents an increase of 47 500 processed offences by comparison with the figure for 2019. Of the investigated offences 30% were person-based cleared during 2020, which is the same rate compared with the result of 2019. Of the total number of processed offences during the year 14% were person-based cleared during 2020, which is also the same rate compared with the result of 2019.

Processed offences 2020

Persons suspected of offences

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Persons suspected of offences
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During 2020, 200,000 persons were suspected of offences, which is an increase since 2019 with 10,700 persons (+6 %). Over a period of ten years (2011–2020) the number has increased with 8,340 persons (+4 %).

Persons suspected of offences 2020

Processed offences linked to a suspect

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Processed offences linked to a suspect
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During 2020, 620,000 offences linked to a suspect were processed, which is an increase of 54,100 (+10 %) in comparison with 2019. Since 2011, the number of processed offences linked to a suspect has increased by approximately 54,000 (+10 %). The most common crime category among the processed offences linked to a suspect in 2020, was Crimes against person, which constituted 24 per cent of the total. Other common offences were Crimes against the Narcotics Drugs Act (20 %), Theft and Robbery (10 %) and Crimes against the Road Traffic Offences Act (10 %).

Processed offences linked to a suspect

Persons found guilty of offences

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Total number of conviction decisions
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Statistics relating to persons convicted for criminal offences present those found guilty either by court (county court convictions) or by prosecutors (through prosecutor fines or waivers of prosecution).

In 2020, there were approximately 109,000 so-called conviction decisions laid down by the courts or the prosecutors. This is a 5 percent increase compared to 2019.

Since 1975, the number of convictions has decreased by 65 percent. The greatest reduction came at the end of the 1970s in connection with the decriminalization of public drunkenness. Since then the trend has been more stable, but there has nonetheless been a continuous reduction in number of convictions. In part the reduction can be explained by the fact that over time the police have received extended authority to issue summary fines for a larger number of petty offences. These are presented separately in the conviction statistics. Part of the decrease, particularly between the years 1994—1996, can also be explained if viewed in relation to the fact that the number of cleared offences also fell during this period of time.

Road traffic offences constitute the most common offence type for which someone is convicted. In 2020, offences against various road traffic statutes were the principal offence in 30 percent of all convictions. The second most common offence type is crimes against the Narcotics Drugs Act, which was the principal offence in 27 percent of the convictions in 2020.

Fines most common sanction

Fines issued either by the courts or the prosecutor is the most common form of sanction. In 2020, 60 percent of all convictions carried fines as the principal sanction. In addition, 242,000 summary fines were issued directly by the police.

In 2020, about 10 percent (11,200) of all convictions carried a prison sentence. The most common sentence length was of a maximum of two months (41 percent of all convictions carrying a prison sentence) while the second most common sentence length was of over two months but no more than six months (21 percent of all convictions carrying a prison sentence). About 1,640 sentences or 14 percent of the prison sentence carried a prison term of over two years, 20 of which carried a life sentence. In 2020, 65 youths were sentenced to youth custody, a sanction that since 1999 has largely replaced the use of prison for youths up to eighteen years of age.

A legislative change introduced 1 January 2007 led to the sanctions youth care and youth service, previously included under care of the social services, now having become separate sanctions. There were about 3,250 youth care and youth service sentences in 2020.

In 2020, there were 9,650 convictions that carried a suspended sentence as the principal sanction, of which 32 percent (3,130 convictions) were combined with community service.

Men and women accounted for 83 and 17 percent respectively of those found guilty of offences in 2020. Youths aged between fifteen and twenty made up approximately 20 percent of all convicted in 2020. In relation to the proportion of the population, youths are over-represented among those found guilty of offences compared to members of other age groups.

Prison and Probation

Over the course of the year 2020 a total of 8,960 individuals were admitted to prison, which is a decrease of 2 percent in comparison with 2019.

The number of inmates in prison service institutions (on 1 October) was approximately 5,450 in 2020, which constitutes an increase of 9 percent in comparison with 2019. The level is now 2 percent higher than it was in 2011.

Of those admitted to prisons during the year 2020, 19 percent had been sentenced for theft offences. Around 12 percent had been sentenced for crimes against life and health, around 31 percent had been sentenced for drug offences and around 10 percent had been sentenced for road traffic offences. Assault offences dominated among the crimes against life and health and drinking under the influence dominated among the traffic offences.

The majority of those admitted to prisons are men. In 2020, men accounted for approximately 93 percent of the total number of prison inmates. The proportion of inmates comprised of women has been relatively stable over the last ten years.

Around 15 percent of those admitted to prison in 2020 were aged 50 or older. 46 percent were aged between 30 and 49, 33 percent were aged between 21 and 29. Youths aged between 15 and 20 accounted for 6 percent of admissions in 2020. Looking instead at those admitted to prison per 100,000 of population in the respective age groups, the distribution is different. On this basis, the dominant age group comprises persons aged 21 to 29 years, with 252 prison admissions per 100,000 of population, as compared with 79 admissions per 100,000 of population among those aged 15 to 20 years.

Approximately 1,620 individuals served their prison sentence by means of intensive electronic supervision in 2020, which constitutes an increase of 1 percent in comparison with 2019.

In 2019 approximately 11,300 persons entered the supervision of the probation service. This represents an increase of 14 percent by comparison with the figure for 2019. Approximately 5,980 persons (53 percent) were sentenced to probation and approximately 5,270 persons (47 percent) were conditionally discharged.

There were approximately 2,330 individuals placed in remand centres on 1 October 2020. Of these, 85 percent were under detention awaiting trial or during ongoing criminal investigations and 2 percent were under arrest or otherwise in police custody. The number of persons serving a prison sentence in remand centres was 310 persons on 1 October 2020.

Recidivism

Forty percent of all persons with an initial event¹ in 2014 relapsed into crime within three years. The percentage that relapsed among women was 30 percent and 43 percent among men. The statistics show minor changes over time.

Nineteen percent of all persons with an initial event where women and 81 percent men.

The risk of relapsing into crime clearly increases with the number of previous adjudications². Ninety two percent among those with nine or more previous adjudications relapsed into crime within three years. Among those without any previous adjudication 21 percent relapsed into crime within three years.

The median number of days to the first relapse into crime was seven months and three weeks (239 days) 2014. The median number of days for women was 248 and 237 for men.

It is common that a liberty depriving sanction in the initial event is followed by a liberty depriving sanction in the relapse event. More than 50 percent had been deprived of liberty some time prior to the relapse event when previous adjudications 5 years before the initial event are included.

About the statistics

Brå has published new recidivism statistics from 2012. The statistics have been improved through various measures in terms of reliability, quality and timeliness. The recidivism statistics aim, as before, to give an overview of the level, structure and development of relapses into crime. The statistics also present new measures such as time to first relapse.

The statistics is divided into to two products, one final and one preliminary recidivism statistics. The difference is the follow up time and the time for collection of conviction decisions that include relapses into crime. These time periods are three years each in the final statistics and one year each in the preliminary statistics. This gives the possibility to present more reliable final statistics compared to the preliminary statistics.

Due to the changes the levels in the new and old recidivism statistics are not directly comparable. It is however possible to compare distributions and development patterns.

¹) An initial event is a release from prison, discharge from closed institutional youth care, discharge from forensic psychiatric care, completed intensive supervision with electronic monitoring or court sentencing with legal force or conviction decisions with other sanctions.

²) Previous adjudications mean court sentencing with legal force or conviction decisions 5 years before the initial event.

A note on making international comparisons

Crime 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. There are no international standards for how crime statistics should be produced and presented and this makes international comparisons difficult.

The legal factors that influence crime statistics include the way offences are defined in the relevant legislation, for example, as well as the rules and guiding principles that obtain for the work of the police and prosecutors.

The statistical factors that exert an influence include the principles that determine when a crime is recorded in the statistics. In some countries an event is only recorded in the crime statistics if, after investigation, it can legitimately be considered a crime or where there is sufficient evidence that a crime has been committed. Swedish statistics, on the other hand, record all reported events as crimes even if some of them are later found not to have constituted criminal offences.

Every country has its own principles about what is to be recorded as a criminal act. In some countries, if several offences are committed on the same occasion, only the most serious of these will be recorded. In Sweden, every offence committed on a single occasion is recorded in principle.

Methods of counting crime also vary from one country to another. Several offences of the same kind against a single victim will be counted in some countries as a single crime. By contrast, in Swedish crime statistics every offence occurring under these circumstances is counted separately.

The statistical classification of different types of incidents also varies. This is true of attempted offences, for example, which are in Sweden counted together with completed crimes. In a number of other countries, attempted offences are either recorded separately or ignored for statistical purposes.

Crime statistics are also influenced by public willingness to report crime, and by the efforts made by the police to deal with reported crime in the light of the way they prioritise different types of offences. This too may vary from country to country, making international comparisons more difficult.

The Swedish Crime Survey (a survey of self-reported victimization) constitutes a valuable indicator of  exposure to crime (for example in relation to the official crime statistics), as a means of describing perceptions of safety (or fear of crime) or confidence, and also as a national reference point for other surveys.

If you have any questions about Swedish crime statistics, please contact us at info@bra.se.