In stats: Deadly violence in Sweden in the 2000s

The number of women killed by their partner or ex-partner every year has gone down since the early 2000s, according to a report by the Swedish Crime Prevention Council.

In stats: Deadly violence in Sweden in the 2000s
File photo of a police officer. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT

The Swedish Council for Crime Prevention (Brå) presented a new report on Tuesday, which highlights crime trends up until the year 2015 (it does not include figures from 2016, which are still preliminary).

It notes that the number of women killed by a current or previous partner has gone down by almost 20 percent since the early 2000s. In 2008-2013, an average of 13 women died every year as a result of domestic violence; down from an average of 17 in the first decade of the new millennium and the 1990s, according to Brå.

In 2014, a total of 16 women were killed by a partner or an ex, and 12 women were killed in 2015.

“Efforts to deal with mental illness and alcohol abuse are important, as well as increased attention from, for example, maternity care, schools and social services. There is also reduced tolerance of violence in society in general,” Brå investigator Nina Forselius told the TT news agency.

However, women's organization Unizon was reluctant to celebrate the figures just yet.

“Any reduction of male violence is welcome, but I don't think we should make too much of it when the numbers are this small. We're also seeing that other crimes which men expose women to are on the increase,” Unizon's secretary-general Olga Persson told TT.

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Deadly violence in general has gone down in Sweden since the early 2000s. In 2001-2005 an average of 92 incidents were registered, compared to 85 on average in 2011-2015, according to Brå's report.

Incidents where the perpetrator and the victim do not know each other have gone down from around 12 cases a year in the early 2000s to ten a year in the past five years. This type of violence often takes place in public venues and both the victim and the offender are usually young men under the influence of alcohol.

Some kind of gun or firearm was used in around 31 percent of all cases of deadly violence in 2014-2015, up from around 22 percent in 2010-11. Brå attributes the rise mainly to an increased use of guns in, for example, gang conflicts and other conflicts specifically linked to criminal activity.

In total, men make up around 90 percent of offenders when it comes to deadly violence, and almost two thirds of the victims. When women commit an act of deadly violence, the victim is usually a man she has had some kind of relationship with (the most common scenario) or a child, according to Brå's report.

The average offender in 2000-2013 was aged 32 and the average victim 39.

Around 60 percent of offenders and almost a third of victims were unemployed or receiving some kind of jobless benefits in 2002-2013. “People involved in deadly violence to a large extent belong to socio-economically disadvantaged groups,” read Brå's report.

Since 2000, a suspect has been sentenced in around 80 percent of all cases of deadly violence, or died before conviction (but confirmed as the likely perpetrator). The majority of those sentenced were found guilty of murder, rather than manslaughter.

In the early 1990s, less than half were convicted of murder, compared to almost 80 percent in 2009-2013, a rise attributed to an increase in gang conflicts rather than, for example, domestic violence.

Read about Sweden's crime stats in 2016 here.

Read Brå's report here (in Swedish).


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.