Fewer rape investigations are being solved in Sweden, new stats suggest

Fewer rapes have been solved in Sweden so far in 2017 than by the same stage a year before, new figures from the country's National Council on Crime Prevention (Brå) suggest.

Fewer rape investigations are being solved in Sweden, new stats suggest
File photo of a Swedish police car. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

Brå's preliminary figures for the first six months of 2017 show that only eight percent of rapes investigated by police this year have been solved (mening 302 have been solved), down from 12 percent at the same stage a year before, when 354 were solved.

Police say they want to do more, but complain that limited resources are hampering their cause. According to Brå's researcher on sex crimes, there are also a number of other factors that can influence the change.

“Eight percent is quite low, but it's also worth remembering that these crimes are generally difficult to investigate. Even if police could do more to investigate these crimes in a better way, that would perhaps mean a difference of a few percent, and doing everything in the book wouldn't necessarily mean some kind of extreme change,” Johanna Olseryd told The Local.

“In general it's a type of crime where the clearance rate is quite low and it can vary year by year and be up and down. It's also not unusual for there to be larger cases which include many individual crimes for example. So if a final decision is reached on that kind of case, it can impact the rate of crimes being solved by several percent,” she added.

In Sweden each case of sexual violence is recorded as a separate instance, so for example if someone tells the police that they were raped by a partner several times, each of those instances would be recorded as an individual potential crime.

READ ALSO: Sweden's rape statistics explained

Another factor that could contribute is that the number of rapes that have been processed so far in Sweden this year is up to 4,004 from a lower 3,047 during the first half of 2016, meaning the police simply have more work to do.

Of those 4,004, an investigation was launched in 3,810 instances, while 194 were dismissed without one. In 2016, 2,843 were investigated and 204 were dismissed.

But the fact that more rapes have been processed by police does not necessarily mean that more were committed, Olseryd pointed out:

“In general what we know from research is that more people are coming forward and saying they have been subjected to sexual crimes. We don’t know how much that is down to there being more crimes committed, or because there is a bigger public discussion of the subject, which means more people are likely to understand that they have been subjected to something that’s a crime, or that they have a higher tendency to report it.”

The increasingly stretched nature of the police force in Sweden has been a prominent subject in the country as of late. Unions have complained that a lack of adequate staff numbers is preventing more crimes from being solved, with a Swedish Police Union (Polisförbundet) survey in May showing that 39 percent of officers think a lack of investigation staff means the crime clearance rate is going in the wrong direction.

READ ALSO: Sweden needs more police officers, union says

A difficult working environment and low salaries are also blamed for officers leaving their job prematurely, with 200 under the age of 40 leaving their positions in 2016.

Earlier this week, the Swedish government announced that it will give two billion kronor to the police in 2018 in an effort to help turn the force around, with the money to be directed towards improving working conditions and encouraging people to say in their job, as well as recruiting more officers.

READ ALSO: Policing among the key points in Sweden's new budget


Sweden launches major state initiative to fight cybercrime aimed at smart cars

Connected cars are increasingly exposed to security threats. Therefore, a major government initiative is now being launched via the research institute Rise.

Sweden launches major state initiative to fight cybercrime aimed at smart cars

More and more technical gadgets are now connected to the internet, and cars are no exception. However, the new reality raises questions about security, and from the Swedish side, an initiative is now being launched to combat cybercrime in the car industry through the government research institute Rise.

“We see a great need (for action), in regards to cyber-attacks in general and solving challenges related to the automotive industry’s drive to make cars more and more connected, and in the long run, perhaps even self-driving,” Rise chief Pia Sandvik stated.

Modern cars now have functions that allow car manufacturers to send out software updates exactly the same way as with mobile phones.

In addition to driving data, a connected car can also collect and pass on technical information about the vehicle.

Nightmare scenario

However, all this has raised questions about risks and the worst nightmare scenario in which someone could be able to take over and remotely operate a connected car.

Sandvik points out that, generally speaking, challenges are not only related to car safety but also to the fact that the vehicle can be a gateway for various actors to get additional information about car owners.

“If you want to gain access to information or cause damage, you can use different systems, and connected vehicles are one such system. Therefore, it is important to be able to test and see if you have robust and resilient systems in place,” she said.

Ethical hackers

Initially, about 15 employees at Rise will work on what is described as “Europe’s most advanced cyber security work” regarding the automotive industry.

Among the employees, there are also so-called “ethical hackers”, i.e., people who have been recruited specifically to test the systems.

“These are hackers who are really good at getting into systems, but not with the aim of inflicting damage, but to help and contribute to better solutions,” Sandvik noted.