Nearly one in three immigrants feel unsafe in Sweden: report

Updated: Nearly one in three immigrants feel unsafe in Sweden, according to new research by the Swedish Council on Crime Prevention.

Nearly one in three immigrants feel unsafe in Sweden: report
Do you feel safe? Photo: Janerik Henriksson/TT

The Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention's annual survey on safety in Sweden found that 30 percent of people born outside of Sweden feel unsafe when they go out at night.

Of people born in Sweden to foreign-born parents the same figure was 20 percent, compared to 17 percent among native Swedes who have at least one parent also born in the country.

The figures have increased on last year, when 24 percent of foreigners in Sweden reported feeling unsafe, compared to 13 percent of Swedes with one or two Swedish-born parents. However, if you go back ten years, the numbers have dipped slightly in both categories.

Ten percent of foreign-born people told the survey they feel so unsafe that they choose to stay at home in the evenings, compared to six percent of native Swedes with Swedish parents.

The survey also indicates a notable difference between men and women.

A total of 31 percent of women said they felt unsafe going out at night – up from 25 percent in the 2015 survey. Twelve percent said they choose not to go outside in the evenings as a result, compared to two percent of men. Again, however, compared to ten years ago the numbers have gone down slightly.

Sara Westerberg, one of the authors behind the report, told The Local that increased debate about sexual offences when the survey was carried out may have affected the results.

“We see that women are significantly more worried than men about abuse/assault, and it is possible that that affects their perceived safety. The data collection was also carried out at a time when there were a lot of discussion about sexual abuse/assault of women and that too may have affected their sense of security,” she said.

Brå's director-general Erik Wennerström urged decision-makers to take the results seriously. “This means a door shuts them out from part of their lives. They get a serious restriction of their freedom of movement that nobody should have to feel,” he told newswire TT.

Interior Minister Anders Ygeman said he wanted to step up work to crack down on sex crimes.

“We need better criminal legislation which the government is to propose, we need to increase the risk of detection, for example camera surveillance in areas exposed to crime and more police in these areas,” he told TT.

Around 1,500,000 crimes were reported to the police, prosecutor or customs in 2015, up by some four percent on the previous year. The number of reported assaults went up by two percent in 2015, while the number of reported sexual offences went down by 11 percent, according to Brå's statistics.

“Feeling unsafe is complicated and whether you have the grounds to feel unsafe is nothing we can answer because it is very individual. The actual risk of being subjected to crime is small, but it doesn't just have to be about that risk, for example young men are most often the victims of assault but are at the same time the group that is the least worried about that type of crime,” said Westerberg, but added “no matter the reason it is important that concerns are always taken seriously”.

The group leader of the Feminist Initiative Party in Stockholm described it as a “security problem and a democratic problem” that 12 percent of women said they felt too unsafe to go outside in the evening. 

Anna Rantala Bonnier urged authorities to in the short term make sure that public spaces are built with people's safety in mind, with enough lighting, movement of other people and few areas hidden from view.

“But the common factor is that nearly all violence in public spaces is committed by men, so in the long term we also need to talk about how women are viewed, masculinity norms and crime prevention measures,” she told The Local.

Around 12,000 people were interviewed for the survey, which was carried out between January and May 2016.


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.