Crime Wave Engulfs Sweden as Fraud, Sexual Offenses Reach Record

  • Five of six types of crimes against individuals at record high
  • Annual Swedish Crime Survey shows increase in past two years

Police conduct searches in Malmo, Sweden

Photographer: Asger Ladefoged/AFP via Getty Images

The number of Swedes who were victims of crimes such as fraud and sexual offenses jumped to the highest level on record last year.

A survey by the Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention showed that 15.6 percent of people suffered one or more offences against the person (defined in the survey as assault, threats, sexual offences, robbery, fraud or harassment) last year. That’s up from 13.3 percent in 2015 and the highest number recorded since the annual Swedish Crime Survey started in 2006.

The number of offences against individuals “was at a relatively stable level 2005 to 2014, at 11.3 percent to 13.1 percent, but the last two years show an increase,” the council said in the report published this week. The crimes “that have had the clearest development in the past few years are harassment, fraud and sexual offences,” the agency said.

Of the six types of offences against the person, five of six rose to their highest level on record last year. The number of assault cases reached its second-highest level.

The number of victims of sexual offences rose to 1.7 percent in 2015 and to 2.4 percent in 2016 from an average of 0.9 percent between 2005 and 2014.

“Young women aged between 16 and 24 is the group that’s most subject to sexual offences, with 14 percent of young women stating that they were victims of at least one such crime during 2016,” the council said. “Among men in the same age group, 1.2 percent said they had been victims.”

Young women are also subject to harassment to a greater extent, the council said. They survey contains no answers as to why a certain type of crime increases, and analysis is needed to improve understanding of the reasons for the increase, it said.

Fewer than half of the crimes in the survey were reported to the police. Sexual offences, harassment and threats were the least reported while people most often notified the police of burglaries, the survey showed.

The number of property crimes against households, such as car theft and burglaries, rose slightly last year but is down compared with the level in 2006.

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