The report also shows that illegal threats and harassment are the most common types of hate crime. Last year, almost 5,900 hate crimes (crimes with the intention of offending the victim) were reported in Sweden.
Almost 72 percent (4,225) were judged to have racial or xenophobic motives, 18 percent (1,055) were related to sexual orientation and 10 percent (around 600) had anti-religious motives.
The most common crimes are illegal threats and harassment, which occur twice as often as violent hate crimes.
“That remains unchanged, which previous years’ reports have also shown. These are crimes that occur in people’s daily lives, a neighbour or a total stranger who might yell something about ethnic origin,” said Anna Molarin, one of the report’s authors.
Compared to 2007, the number of hate crimes reported in 2008 increased by 2,350 incidents. The number has increased every year since 1999, when around 2,000 hate crimes were reported.
But several changes in the criteria for the crime mean that the figures aren’t comparable. Last year, the definition of “hate crime” was changed. For example, hate crimes between minority groups, biphobia, heterophobia and transphobia now all fall under the hate crime rubric.
The council is also now tracking xenophobic hate crimes between minority groups and against Afro-Swedes and Roma people.
“We have seen in the police reports that these groups are particularly vulnerable,” said Molarin.
An increased inclination to report crimes and improved police routines also explain the increase.
“Police are working more and more with these crimes. In Stockholm, for instance, there is a hate crimes division with 4-5 specially trained officers who work with these crimes full-time,” explained Molarin.
But hate crimes are hard to resolve. Of all hate crimes reported in 2007, in only 8 percent of the cases was someone prosecuted, sentenced or formally cautioned.
The most difficult cases to resolve were Islamophobic hate crimes where an individual could be tied to the crime in only 5 percent of incidents.