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Crime in Sweden - statistics & facts

Over the past decades, the number of reported crimes in Sweden generally increased, which can be explained by several factors: a significant increase in the Swedish population, which naturally results in more crime and convicted criminals, as well as a new culture of reporting crimes to the authorities. Considering the last 10 years, the total number of reported crimes increased slightly from 2015 to 2020, but the number of crimes per 100,000 inhabitant remained relatively stable. Despite this, Sweden has received increased international attention due to increasing gang violence in its biggest cities Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmö. A quick look at the number of shootings over the past five years shows that there was no marked increase in the registered number of these over this period. However, a report published by the Swedish national council for crime prevention in 2021 found that Sweden was the only European country in which the number of fatal shootings per 100,000 inhabitant increased since 2000.

Compared to other European countries, Sweden's homicide rate was around average, but higher than in most of its Nordic neighbors. In 2021, a total of 113 intentional homicides were registered in the Scandinavian country. Most of the victims of these were men. Interestingly, all cases that the police investigate as a possible murder or manslaughter are registered as such in Sweden, even if they are later found to have been accidents or suicides. Hence, the number of reported cases of homicides and manslaughter may actually be higher in Sweden than in other European countries with a more restrictive way of counting.

Falling number of crimes in 2021

In 2021, the total number of reported crimes in Sweden decreased by almost 100,000 compared to the previous year. This trend could be observed among almost all types of crime. For instance, after having increased steadily from 2016 to 2020, the number of reported drug-related crimes fell by almost 6,000 in 2021. Also the number of reported robberies fell from 2020. Theft crimes was the most reported type of crime in Sweden in 2021.

While most types of crimes decreased over the last year, the number of reported sexual offences continued to increase in 2021. Sweden is also one of few European countries that have made buying of sexual services illegal, meaning that these also are counted as sexual offences. The increasing number of reported sexual crimes may not necessarily mean that the actual number of these increased, but could also be down to an increased focus on reporting and awareness. Furthermore, Sweden introduced a widened and more differentiated definition of rape in 2018. Now, cases categorized as unintentional rapes are also reported. Despite the increase in absolute number of sexual offences in Sweden, the share of self-reported cases of sexual abuse decreased slightly since 2018.

Clear gender differences

Looking at people suspected for having committed a criminal offence, men represent a clear majority of them. It is no surprise, then, that men made up over 8,800 of the 9,481 people sentenced to prison in 2021. Moreover, men are overrepresented among the victims of crime in Sweden. Except for harassment and sexual abuse, a higher share of men than women reported to have been victims of all types of crime in 2021. Another gender difference can be observed among the victims of abuse, where a majority of the female victims knew the perpetrator, but a majority of the male victims did not.

Interesting statistics

In the following 5 chapters, you will quickly find the 35 most important statistics relating to "Crime in Sweden".

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