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CRIME

Murders in Sweden drop by half since 1990s

The number of murders in Sweden has decreased by more than half over the last two decades according to a new study that gives the country one of the lowest homicide rates in Europe.

Murders in Sweden drop by half since 1990s

Researchers from Linneaus University compiled statistics which revealed that the number of murders or manslaughters committed in Sweden last year was 62 compared to 127 back in 1989.

Indeed, the 62 murders/manslaughters was the lowest homicides figure since the 1960s, according to statistics from the Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention (Brottsförebyggande rådets statistik, Brå).

Sweden’s decreasing murder rate is in keeping with figures compiled for the rest of Europe. France, Germany and Italy have also had seen the amount of murders decrease by half since the mid 1990s. In Denmark the murder rate has decreased by a quarter in that same time period.

The study also looked at emergency room visits to Stockholm South General Hospital, finding that the number of people seeking treatment for injuries from street violence had declined by a third between 2007 and 2012.

While violent crime is decreasing in general, the study found, violence related to the activities of organized criminal gangs in on the rise.

According to crime researcher Sven Granath, the drop in violent crime has, paradoxically, occurred in the wake of a more liberal approach to alcohol in Sweden since the 1990s including relaxed rules for how much alcohol people could bring into the country for private consumption.

“Here we should have had a sharp increase in the number of assaults and murders. In fact it was on the contrary. The worst violence was down,” he told Dagens Nyheter (DN).

Another factor is that young people now spend more time interacting via social media and gaming, resulting in reduced alcohol consumption and violence.

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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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