Crime in Sweden: a look at where the fatal shootings happen

New police statistics reveal which regions saw the most shootings in Sweden last year, and how this compares to previous years.

Crime in Sweden: a look at where the fatal shootings happen
A non-fatal shooting in Malmö in December last year. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT
Malmö and its surrounding region saw the most deadly shootings in Sweden last year, with the city's ongoing gang war leaving 14 dead and 28 wounded, according to new police statistics published on Wednesday.
In their report, Swedish police said that most recent shootings appeared connected to battles over the narcotics trade, which has grown significantly, with the number of police narcotics cases doubling over the last decade. 
“The police have a very good picture of which conflicts are occurring in different parts of the country and we are working hard at seizing people and bringing them before the courts,”  said Mats Löfving, head of Noa, the Swedish police's national coordinating body. 
“You can see that among other things in the fact that remand prisons, prisons and youth offenders' centre are pretty much all full.” 
The number of fatal shootings in the police's southern district, which includes Malmö, increased to 14 from ten in 2017, while the number of fatal shootings in the police's western region, which includes Gothenburg, increased from five to ten.
The number of fatal shootings in the Stockholm region fell from 19 to 11, but this was not enough to stop the number of 45 gun deaths over Sweden as a whole, compared to 43 in 2017. 
The total number of shootings fell, however, with 306 in 2018 compared to 324 in 2017. 

The number of fatal shootings in Sweden between 2006 and 2018. Image and statistics: TT/Police

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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.