“This study is unique because it is the first time that a large amount of comparable data is available, making it possible to study deadly violence in three European countries,” said Sven Granath of Sweden’s National Council on Crime Prevention (Brottsförebyggande rådet – Brå) in a statement.
The study, a collaboration between Sweden’s National Council on Crime Prevention, the National Research Institute of Legal Policy in Finland and the Institute for Criminal Law and Criminology of Leiden university in the Netherlands, shows that in Sweden and Finland the ”average” killer is an inebriated man who kills by stabbing his victim on the spur of the moment.
In both Nordic countries, violence very much depends on the alcohol habits of the population.
The typical murder in both Finland and Sweden occurs when two male acquaintances or friends are sitting at home drinking.
Suddenly a fight erupts and one ends up dead. The average murder weapon of choice?
A kitchen knife.
“These murders have not been planned, they happen spontaneously. It really is just chance which dictates who ends up dead, “ said Johanna Hagstedt of Brå, who has worked on the international comparison study between Sweden, Finland and the Netherlands.
The study also shows, that in the Netherlands, by comparison, the murderers are sober and choose a gun over a blade.
“They have a different kind of gang criminality, which shows in their murder statistics,” Hagstedt said.
According to Hagstedt, murders in the Netherlands are also more likely to occur on the street, in the cities where gang life is common.
In Finland, on the other hand, most murders happen in the countryside.
Alcohol does not even show up in Dutch murder statistics. According to Hagstedt this means that alcohol is not as big a problem in the Netherlands.
However, there is Swedish research showing a clear connection between alcohol and murder over the last century.
Although there are differences between the three countries, there are also many similarities.
Deadly violence is, for example, more likely to occur at night or at the weekend.
And the characteristics of both perpetrators and victims are also similar. To a large extent they are men, born within the country, and between ages 25 and 64.
The study is based on data collected from the three countries over four years and was funded by the EU.