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 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.