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Youth robberies

A review of the current situation and development. English summary of report 2021:19

This report shows that the number of reported robberies against people under 18 as well as the self-reported exposure to robbery among young people have both increased in recent years.

In 2020, the number of reported youth robberies fell slightly, most likely due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, this fall was only seen in cities and municipalities close to cities. Throughout the rest of Sweden, the number of reported robberies continued to rise. The report also shows that increasingly more youths express worry about being robbed, and this increase is particularly noticeable among boys.

Robbery

Young people and children

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About the study

Street robbery is a serious crime, and the trends we are seeing give cause for concern. Exactly how youth robberies are committed varies greatly. In some cases, no explicit threats or violence are used, while in other cases, explicit threats, violence and weapons, as well as acts of force and humiliation, are used. As a consequence, many youths who fall victim to robbery are affected by the crime not only financially, but also psychologically and physically. The report shows, for instance, that after being robbed, youths may have trouble sleeping, not want to go out or be in certain places and perhaps even need medical care.

There is a need to closely watch developments in street robbery among young people, and this study offers an updated picture of these developments and the geographic distribution. The report also describes the victims, suspects and nature of youth robbery, as well as young people's experiences of robbery. There is much research in the area, and Brå regularly reviews developments in street robbery. However, a little more than 20 years have passed since Brå conducted a study focused on youth robbery, and that study concerned youths robbing other youths in the cities of Malmö and Stockholm.

This study is based on data from Brå's crime statistics, official registry data and geographic data from the Swedish Police Authority and Statistics Sweden, as well as surveys on exposure to and participation in street robbery targeting youths. The study also includes a review of preliminary investigations into youth robbery and interviews with young perpetrators, victims and parents of victims.

Reported youth robberies have increased throughout Sweden

From 2008 onwards, robberies against persons under 18 are recorded separately in Sweden's crime statistics. In 2008, 1,541 robberies against persons under 18 were reported, corresponding to 80 robberies per 100,000 inhabitants under 18. The number of reported robberies against persons under 18 fell between 2009 and 2013, after which the numbers remained relatively stable until 2016. Following this, the number of reported robberies increased dramatically. In 2019, 2,489 such robberies were reported, corresponding to 114 robberies per 100,000 inhabitants under 18. In 2020, the number of reported robberies against persons under 18 fell to 2,186, corresponding to 100 robberies per 100,000 inhabitants under 18.

In recent years, the increase in youth robberies has been particularly noticeable in cities and municipalities close to cities, where the number of reported robberies against persons under 18 has risen from 86 robberies per 100,000 inhabitants in 2016 to 186 robberies per 100,000 inhabitants in 2019. By contrast, the relative increase since 2008 has been greatest in smaller towns/urban areas and rural municipalities, where the number of reported youth robberies per 100,000 inhabitants was twice as high in 2019 compared to 2008.

The self-reporting studies regularly conducted by Brå also show that street robbery among young people has increased in recent years. In the national Swedish Crime Survey, 3.3 percent of youths aged 16–19 stated that they had been robbed in 2019, to be compared with 1.5 percent in 2016. In the School Survey on Crime, 2.8 percent of pupils in year 9 stated that they had been robbed in 2019, as compared to 2.4 percent in 2015. The Stockholm survey also shows an increase in self-reported exposure to robbery among youths.

The recent relatively dramatic increases in both the number of reported robberies of persons under 18 and the self-reported exposure of youths to robbery suggest that these figures generally reflect an actual increase in youth robberies and not a change in the propensity to report.

Download the report to find out more Pdf, 514 kB.

Publication facts

Author: Anna Öström and Sara Jonsson

© Brottsförebyggande rådet 2022

urn:nbn:se:bra-1023

Report 2021:19

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