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MAP: Is life in your town more or less safe than the rest of Sweden?

Elias Liljeström
Elias Liljeström - [email protected]
MAP: Is life in your town more or less safe than the rest of Sweden?

Where is the safest place to live in Sweden, and could the rest of the country learn from it? According to a new study, it's a small community that overlooks the country's largest lake, Vänern, in west central Sweden.


Each year a comparative study on security and safety in Sweden is published by the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions (SKR in Swedish), and the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency (MSB).
For the year 2019, crime and crime prevention were the main focus points, but other areas like prevalence of fires and personal injuries were also part of the total equation.
"The purpose of the study is to make an open comparison between municipalities so that they can boost their own efforts by drawing on the experiences of others," Greta Berg, expert on crime prevention for SKR, told The Local.
The safest places in Sweden
A long time top-ranking municipality and at the number one spot for 2019, the municipality of Hammarö, with 16,500 people, once again scored incredibly low on prevalence of crime, injuries and fires.
Most of the top spots were commuter towns, municipalities close to larger cities.
Out of Sweden's three biggest cities, Gothenburg came top (placing 98 in the overall list), followed by Malmö (152nd spot overall) and Stockholm (226th out of Sweden's 290 municipalities).
Popular university towns Lund and Uppsala placed 23rd and 32nd, respectively
See how your municipality scored in the interactive table below.
Interactive and searchable table of all Swedish municipalities and their respective ranking.
So what's behind Hammarö's consistent high scores, and is there anything that larger towns could learn from it?
"We have a very close collaboration with police and emergency services, each year we sign a new 'citizen agreement' together with the police," Bosse Henriksson, the Moderate Party mayor of Hammarö, told The Local.
He explained that the agreement is a collaboration in which they try to pin-point problems brought up in talks and discussions with the public, in order to focus efforts towards those areas.
"We have had two main focus points, burglary and drug use, but this year, after reports of nearly zero house burglaries between January and October last year, our new focus is traffic and drugs," Henriksson said, adding that this was based partly on getting alerts from the public about reckless driving.
In fact, the SKR and MSB study highlights collaboration between police and municipal organizations as an important factor for lower crime rates, as well as so called "citizen promises", "citizen agreements" – or medborgarlöften in Swedish.
Citizen promises refer to efforts by the police and municipality to discuss issues such as crime and security with the public so citizens can get directly involved in the process.
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Interactive map of Swedish municipalities and how they rank in the SKR & MSB study.
Safe suburbia
What stands out in the data though is that on the whole, suburbs top the list with overall good ratings on safety and security. 
"Possible answers lie in the fact that they (suburban municipalities) have a larger proportion of working population that commutes into larger cities, fewer old people and are overall more sparsely populated," said SKR's Greta Berg.
She pointed out that it is difficult to identify cause and effect on a national level, but said that locally it is possible to see direct links between, for example, a municipality that focuses on fire prevention and overall lower rate of fires.
"But that also might be contingent on other factors. It may be that a municipality with a higher proportion of older people is still more prone to accidental fires, even though they are actively working to prevent fires," she added.
Because of this kind of difficulty, Berg says the data should serve as a guide for municipalities to explore where their own shortcomings or strengths are, and to further collaboration and sharing experiences with others.

Hammarö council headquarters. Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Janee
Behind the uniform
Violence against emergency services is often highlighted as a problem in Sweden, even outside of the big cities. In November last year a new law was approved in Swedish parliament, making violence towards emergency services its own criminal category with a heavier penalty.
The SKR and MSB study points to preventative measures in this area as important in building long-term security. It also highlights social outreach programmes where police, paramedics and firefighters visit children and teenagers to demystify and humanize those who work in emergency services.
Read the full study here.
Chief constable Karl Erik Engström speaks to school children about traffic safety, Kungsholmen elementary school 1953. Photo: SVD/TT


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