Swedes increasingly concerned about crime: survey

Swedes are increasingly worried about crime, and women are more concerned about it than men, according to new figures from the country's National Council on Crime Prevention (Brå).

Swedes increasingly concerned about crime: survey
Swedes are increasingly concerned about crime. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

Numbers released by Brå from the forthcoming 2017 edition of the National Crime Survey (NTU) suggest that almost a third of the population (29 percent) are to a large extent worried about crime in Swedish society, an increase compared to 2016 (25 percent) and a return to the same level as the first time the matter was measured in 2006. The level had decreased between 2006 and 2011 before the trend changed.

At the same time confidence in the Swedish legal system has declined, with 55 percent of the population now saying they have high confidence in it, down six percent from 2016. As has confidence in the police (54 percent, down from 61 percent in 2016) and confidence in prosecutors (44 percent, down from 50 percent in 2016).

According to Brå's deputy unit head, public discourse on those matters as well as media reporting are reasonable explanations for the changes.

“Though the study doesn't provide explanations and is rather designed to follow developments of the level of concern about crime, we can still see the changes against the background of other figures showing there is an increased exposure to different crimes. There has also now for a quite long period in Sweden been a debate over safety and crimes in different forms, and discussions about the police capacity to deal with cases. That can have an impact,” Brå's Åsa Strid told The Local.

READ ALSO: Growing number of Swedes are victims of crime

The figures show a gender discrepancy in the level of concern, with women generally more worried than men. More women (23 percent) than men (17 percent) are concerned about break-ins for example (the crime Swedes are most concerned about), and the difference is even greater when it comes to concerns about violence, with 23 percent of women worried about being assaulted compared to nine percent of men.

Brå also measured concerns citizens have about going out late at night in their neighbourhood, and the difference between genders continued: 30 percent of women said they felt very or quite unsafe doing so, or so unsafe that they would choose not to go out, compared to only nine percent of men.

“We've seen that difference since we started doing the studies, that women are more insecure and worried about crime,” Strid noted.

Brå's 2017 National Crime Survey took in the opinions of 11,600 people in Sweden. The full results will be published on January 29th.

Another survey by Brå in November found that 1.2 percent of respondents had been victims of house break-ins and 2.7 percent said they had been victims of assault.

READ ALSO: Swedish police improve rape processing rate, but violent crime slips


Swedish Green leader: ‘Easter riots nothing to do with religion or ethnicity’

The riots that rocked Swedish cities over the Easter holidays were nothing to do with religion or ethnicity, but instead come down to class, the joint leader of Sweden's Green Party has told The Local in an interview.

Swedish Green leader: 'Easter riots nothing to do with religion or ethnicity'

Ahead of a visit to the school in Rosengård that was damaged in the rioting, Märta Stenevi said that neither the Danish extremist Rasmus Paludan, who provoked the riots by burning copies of the Koran, nor those who rioted, injuring 104 policemen, were ultimately motivated by religion. 

“His demonstration had nothing to do with religion or with Islam. It has everything to do with being a right extremist and trying to to raise a lot of conflict between groups in Sweden,” she said of Paludan’s protests. 

“On the other side, the police have now stated that there were a lot of connections to organised crime and gangs, who see this as an opportunity to raise hell within their communities.”

Riots broke out in the Swedish cities of Malmö, Stockholm, Norrköping, Linköping and Landskrona over the Easter holidays as a result of Paludan’s tour of the cities, which saw him burn multiple copies of the Koran, the holy book of Islam. 


More than 100 police officers were injured in the riots, sparking debates about hate-crime legislation and about law and order. 

According to Stenevi, the real cause of the disorder is the way inequality has increased in Sweden in recent decades. 

“If you have big chasms between the rich people and poor people in a country, you will also have a social upheaval and social disturbance. This is well-documented all across the world,” she says. 
“What we have done for the past three decades in Sweden is to create a wider and wider gap between those who have a lot and those who have nothing.” 

The worst way of reacting to the riots, she argues, is that of Sweden’s right-wing parties. 
“You cannot do it by punishment, by adding to the sense of outsider status, you have to start working on actually including people, and that happens through old-fashioned things such as education, and a proper minimum income, to lift people out of their poverty, not to keep them there.”

This, she says, is “ridiculous”, when the long-term solution lies in doing what Sweden did to end extreme inequality at the start of the 20th century, when it created the socialist folkhem, or “people’s home”. 

“It’s easy to forget that 100 to 150 years ago, Sweden was a developing country, with a huge class of poor people with no education whatsoever. And we did this huge lift of a whole nation. And we can do this again,” she says. “But it needs resources, it needs political will.”