A summary of the Swedish crime statistics for 2014.
Note: This is a summary of the Swedish Crime Statistics annual publication.
Unabridged original of the publication: Kriminalstatistik 2014 (2015:16)
Comparisons between countries that are based on official crime statistics require caution since such statistics are produced differently in different countries. Crime statistics do not provide a simple reflection of the level of crime in a given country. They 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 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 incidents 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, the principle that is applied involves recording all the offences committed on a given occasion.
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 the public’s willingness to report crime, the efforts made by the police to deal with reported crime and the police’s prioritization of different types of offences. These factors may also vary from country to country, making international comparisons more difficult.
The International Crime Victims Survey (ICVS) constitutes an alternative source of statistics for international comparisons of criminality. The data are from surveys conducted amongst the general public and therefore not influenced by the same factors as the official crime statistics. The ICVS was first carried out in 1989 and then repeated in 1992, 1996, 2000 and in 2004/2005.
© The Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention, 2015
Authors: Nina Forselius and Erik Holmberg