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CRIME

Sweden tops European rape league – but that doesn’t tell the whole story

Sweden has the highest incidence of reported rapes in Europe - twice as many as "runner up" the UK, a new study shows. But the figures don't tell the whole story, says the professor who led the study.

In Sweden, 46 incidences of rape are reported per 100,000 residents, according to the EU study. 

This figure is twice as high as in the UK, where 23 cases are reported per 100,000 residents, and four times that of the other Nordic countries, Germany and France. The figure is up to 20 times the figure for certain countries in southern and eastern Europe.

“There is not one single explanation for the high figures,” lead professor Liz Kelly told the TT news agency.

“People are better at reporting [rape] here than elsewhere, the definition of what constitutes rape has become broader, and there is a greater willingness among Swedish women to report rape in relationships.” 

“In order to ascertain whether the real incidence is higher, more research is required,” said Professor Kelly. 

The study, which is financed by the Brussels-based EU fund Daphne II, compared how the respective judicial systems managed rape cases across eleven EU countries. 

More than 5,000 rapes are reported in Sweden per annum while reports in other countries of a comparable size amounted to only a few hundred.

The figures are however distorted by the fact that in many countries only assault rapes by strangers and aggravated rapes by people known to the victims are reported – as was the case in Sweden 40 years ago.

Many of the reported rapes were linked to nightlife and partying, specifically after-club parties in private homes. Most victims were young, and half had consumed alcohol. 

The Daphne II fund ran from 2004-2008 and was set up by the European Parliament as a specific programme to prevent and combat violence against children, young people and women and to protect victims and groups at risk.

In 2007 Daphne III was launched to continue the work and is funded up to 2013.

Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that “rape simply appears to be a more common occurrence in Sweden than in the other EU countries studied, the researchers argue.” This was a direct translation from Swedish news agency TT, which later amended its original article to include clarifications from Professor Liz Kelly.  

The headline has been updated to reflect these clarifications. 

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CRIME

Sweden breaks yearly record for fatal shootings

A man was shot to death in Kristianstad, Skåne, late on Thursday night. He is the 48th person to be shot dead in Sweden this year, meaning that the previous record for most fatal shootings in one year set in 2020 has now been broken.

Sweden breaks yearly record for fatal shootings

“Unfortunately we can’t say more than that he’s in his twenties and we have no current suspects,” duty officer Mikael Lind told TT newswire.

According to police statistics, this most recent deadly shooting means that 48 people have been shot to death in 2022, meaning that Sweden has broken a new record for deadly shootings per year.

Earlier this week, Sweden’s police chief Anders Thornberg said that this number is likely to rise even higher before the end of the year.

“It looks like we’re going to break the record this year,” he told TT on Tuesday. “That means – if it continues at the same pace – around 60 deadly shootings.”

“If it ends up being such a large increase that would be very unusual,” said Manne Gerell, criminiologist at Malmö University.

“We saw a large increase between 2017 and 2018, and we could see the same now, as we’re on such low figures in Sweden. But it’s still worrying that it’s increasing by so much over such a short time period,” he said.

There also seems to be an upwards trend in the number of shootings overall during 2022. 273 shootings had occured by September 1st this year, compared with 344 for the whole of 2021 and 379 for the whole of 2020.

If shootings continue at this rate for the rest of 2022, it is likely that the total number for the year would be higher than 2021 and 2020. There are, however, fewer injuries.

“The majority of shootings cause no injuries, but this year, mortality has increased substantially,” Gerell explained. “There aren’t more people being shot, but when someone is shot, they’re more likely to die.”

Thursday’s shooting took place in Kristianstad, but it’s only partially true that deadly gun violence is becoming more common in smaller cities.

“It’s moved out somewhat to smaller cities, but we’re overexaggerating that effect,” Gerell said. “We’re forgetting that there have been shootings in other small cities in previous years.”

A report from the Crime Prevention Council (Brå) presented last spring showed that Sweden, when compared with 22 different countries in Europe, was the only one with an upwards trend for deadly shootings.

Temporary increases can be seen during some years in a few countries, but there were no countries which showed such a clear increase as Sweden has seen for multiple years in a row, according to Brå.

The Swedish upwards trend for deadly gun violence began in the beginning of the 2000s, but the trend took off in 2013 and has continued to increase since.

Eight of ten deadly shootings take place in criminal environments, the study showed. The Swedish increase has taken place in principle only among the 20-29 year old age group.

When police chief Anders Thornberg was asked how the trend can be broken, he said that new recruitments are one of the most important factors.

“The most important thing is to break recruitment, make sure we can listen encrypted and that we can get to the profits of crime in a better way,” he said.

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