The Swedish Crime Survey

The Swedish Crime Survey (SCS or Nationella trygghetsundersökningen – NTU – in Swedish) is an annual survey of the attitudes and experiences of the general population of Sweden (aged 16-84 years) regarding victimisation, fear of crime and public confidence in the justice system.

    About the Swedish Crime Survey

The Swedish Crime Survey has been conducted since 2006. The survey includes a sample of 200,000 people. In the SCS 2018, approximately 74,000 people from the sample participated.

Method revised in 2017

The method for the SCS was revised in 2017, as the collection procedure was changed from mainly telephone interviews to postal questionnaires or Internet questionnaires, and that the selection was expanded and some of the questions were reformulated. Since a main purpose of the SCS is to be able to make comparisons over time, a method has been developed to enable the results for the period 2007–2016 to be compared with 2017–2018. All the descriptions of the development over time for the results described in the report are thus probably unaffected by the method change. This is important to emphasize, since the purpose of the study is to study the development over time and to compare different groups in the population, rather than estimating exact levels. Read more about this in the 2018 SCS, technical report (Brå 2019).

New offences have been introduced

The questions about pickpocketing, sales fraud, card- /credit fraud and online harassment were introduced in connection with the 2017 SCS, which means that there are only results from the 2017 SCS and the 2018 SCS for those types of offences.

Victimisation

Victimisation was investigated for the calendar year preceding the date on which the question was asked. This means that the victimisation reported in 2018 SCS reflects victimisation during 2017. Victimisation in terms of offences against an individual is reported as the percentage of victims, unlike victimisation in terms of property offences against households, which is reported as the percentage of victimised households.

Offences against an individual

Victims of various types of offences against an individual. Percentage of the population (aged 16–84), 2006–2017¹. Source: Swedish Crime Survey

¹). The results regarding victimisation 2006–2015 are recalculated since the SCS was then carried out with another method. For the corresponding results before the recalculation, see previous SCS publications.


In the 2018 SCS, 24.7 per cent of the population (aged 16–84) state that during 2017, they were a victim of one or more of the types of offences referred to in the report as offences against an individual: assault, threats, sexual offences, robbery, pickpocketing, sales fraud, card-/credit fraud, harassment and online harassment. This is an increase as compared with the preceding year (in 2016 the proportion was 23.1 %).

The most common types of reported offences in the 2018 SCS were threats and sexual offences (8.3 respective 6.4 %) while robbery was the least common (1.3 %).

The proportion of victims has increased for almost all types of offences against an individual compared to 2017. Seen over a longer period of time, it is the exposure to sexual offences that have been most evident in recent years. The proportion of sexual offences has increased since 2012, an increase that has been particularly evident in recent years.

Most persons who have been a victim of offences against an individual state that they were victimised once during 2017, while 26.3 per cent of them (corresponding to 6.5 % of the population aged 16–84) state that they were victims four times or more. Individuals in this group count for three quarters (75.4 %) of all incidents of offences against an individual.

Assault

The percentage of individuals who state that they were a victim of assault in 2017 is 3.3 per cent of the population (aged 16–84). The level is slightly higher than in 2016, when 3.1 per cent were a victim of assault. The trend for the period 2006–2015 was one of a weak decline although with some yearly variations. In 2016 the proportion of victims increased, and the higher level is also noted for 2017. With the increase of the last two years, the proportion is now at about the same level as in 2006.

Men were victims of assault more often than women and victims of assault were most commonly in the 16–19 age bracket

Threats

For 2017, 8.3 per cent of the population (aged 16–84) state that they were a victim of threats, which is an increase compared with 2016 (7.9 %). Threat offences remained at a relatively stable level for most of the measurement period (2006–2014), but since 2015 an increasing trend has been noted.

Men were victims of threats more often than women and victims of threats were most commonly in the 20–24 age bracket.

Sexual offences

For 2017, 6.4 per cent of the population (aged 16–84) state that they were a victim of sexual offences. This is an increase compared with 2016, when 4.7 per cent had been victims. Sexual offences remained at a relatively stable level for the period 2006–2012 with an increase occurring thereafter, an increase that has been particularly evident since 2015.

Women were victims of sexual offences significantly more often than men and there are large differences between different age groups. Among both women and men, the proportion was highest in the age group 20–24 years, where 35.8 per cent of women compared with 4.7 per cent of men stated that they were victims of sexual offences in 2017.

Robbery

For 2017, 1.3 per cent of the population (aged 16–84) state they were a victim of robbery. This is a slightly higher level than 2016, when the percentage of victims was 1.1 per cent. The proportion was at a relatively stable level until 2015, but in 2016 an increase was noted and in 2017 the proportion remained at the higher level.

Men were victims of robbery more often than women and victims were most commonly in the 16–19 age bracket.

Harassment

For 2017, 5.9 per cent of the population (aged 16–84) state that they were victims of harassment, which is at the same level as 2016. From 2006 to 2010, the proportion of people exposed to harassment declined gradually. Since then, the proportion has increased for almost all measurement years, and the increase was particularly evident in 2016.

Women were victims of harassment more often than men and victims were most commonly among the youngest age bracket (aged 16–19).

Pickpocketing

For 2017, 2.9 per cent of the population (aged 16–84) state that they were victims of pickpocketing. This is a small decrease from 2016, when the proportion was 3.1 per cent.

Women were victims of pickpocketing slightly more often than men and victims of pickpocketing were most commonly in the 20–24 age bracket.

Sales fraud

For 2017, 4.8 per cent of the population (aged 16–84) state that they were victims of sales fraud. The percentage is greater than 2016, when 4.5 per cent stated that they had been victims.

Men were victims of sales fraud more often than women. The greatest percentage of victims was in the 35–44 age bracket.

Card-/credit fraud

For 2017, 5.1 per cent of the population (aged 16–84) state that they were a victim of card-/credit fraud. This is a slightly higher level than 2016, when the percentage of victims was 4.9 per cent.

Men were victims of card- /credit fraud more often than women, and the greatest percentage of victims was in the 45–54 age bracket.

Online harassment

For 2017, 2.1 per cent of the population (aged 16–84) state that they were victims of online harassment. This is a small increase from 2016, when the proportion was 1.9 per cent.

There were no differences between men and women regarding the proportion who were exposed. The greatest percentage of victims was in the 16–19 age bracket.

Property offences against households

Victims of various types of property offences. Percentage of victimised households nationwide, 2006–2017³.

³). The results regarding victimisation 2006–2015 are recalculated since the SCS was then carried out with another method. For the corresponding results before the recalculation, see previous SCS publications.

The SCS shows that 13.8 per cent of households were victims of car theft, theft out of or from a vehicle, bicycle theft, or burglary (all referred to as property offences against households) during 2017. This is a decrease from 2016 (when the percentage of victimised households was 14.4 %). The percentage has also decreased in terms of development since the first full-scale survey in 2006.

The most common property crime is bicycle theft (10.3 %), while car theft is least common (0.9 %).

Exposure for all property offences has decreased compared to 2016, with the exception of burglaries where the proportion was the same in 2016 as 2017. The property offences that have had the most significant development since 2006 are the car-related crimes, which have declined significantly.

An overwhelming majority of those who were victims of property offences against households state that they were victims once in 2017, while a smaller percentage of the victimised households (6.6 %) stated that they were victims four times or more. This group was exposed to 30.1 per cent of all property offences.

Burglary

In 2017, 1.8 per cent of households were victims of burglary. The proportion of households that have been exposed to burglaries remained relatively stable during most of the measurement period, but in 2016 the level increased slightly, and the proportion remained at the slightly higher level in 2017.

Car theft

In 2017, 0.9 per cent of households were victims of car theft, which means that the proportion is virtually unchanged compared with 2016, when the proportion was 1.0 per cent. The proportion declined significantly during the period 2006-2014, but in 2015 the proportion increased slightly, The percentage has since remained relatively stable at that level, which despite the increase, is nevertheless considerably lower than when the measurements started.

Theft out of or from a vehicle

The percentage of households that were victims of theft out of or from a vehicle was 4.5 per cent in 2017. This is a decrease from 2016 when the percentage was 4.8 per cent. During the period 2006–2010, the percentage of households that were victims of theft out of or from a vehicle declined dramatically and victimisation has thereafter remained at a relatively stable level.

Bicycle theft

In 2017, 10.3 per cent of households were victims of bicycle theft. This is a decrease compared with last year, when 10.7 per cent of households were victims. The level of the proportion of households exposed to bicycle thefts has remained relatively stable throughout the measurement period.

Fear of crime

Measuring fear of crime is complicated, but the SCS can contribute by providing a number of key indicators on the subject. The reference periods reflected in the chapter on fear of crime vary, depending on the type of question. Questions about concern for various types of offences refer to the most recent twelve months (from the time of interview). The more comprehensive questions refer to the perception one had at the time the question was asked (2018). Regarding concerns about being a victim of crime, the questions about burglary and theft or vandalism of vehicles are the only ones that have been included in their present form every year since the survey was initiated, while the questions about concern about the rest of the offenses were added in conjunction with the revision of the survey in 2017.

Feeling unsafe outdoors late at night

A total of 28 per cent of the population (aged 16–84) state that they feel very unsafe or quite unsafe when going outdoors alone at night or that, as a consequence of feeling unsafe, they avoid going out alone at night. The percentage decreased during the first period and the level is stable after that. However, in 2016 a significant increase occurred and the level has been stable after that.

It is significantly more common for women to feel unsafe than for men. The percentage of persons who feel unsafe is particularly high among the youngest and oldest women in the survey

Feeling unsafe in own neighbourhood late of night

Feeling unsafe (very unsafe/quite unsafe) in own neighbourhood when going out late at night, as well as those who refrain from going out due to feeling unsafe. Percentage of the population (aged 16–84) and for each gender, 2007–2018. Source: SCS 2018

The results regarding the 2007–2016 SCS are recalculated since the SCS was then carried out with another method. For the corresponding results before the recalculation, see previous SCS publications.

Perception of crime development

A total of 82 per cent of the population (aged 16–84) of persons believe that the number of crimes in Sweden has increased over the past three years, which is at approximately the same level as 2017 (81 %).

It is a slightly greater proportion of women than men who believe that the number of crimes in Sweden has increased over the past three years, and the proportion is greatest among the older age brackets, particularly the oldest (aged 75–84).

Perception that crime has increased

Perception that the number of crimes in Sweden has increased (considerably/slightly) in Sweden over the past three years. Percentage of the population (aged 16–84) and for each gender, 2007–2018. Source: SCS 2018

The results regarding the 2007–2016 SCS are recalculated since the SCS was then carried out with another method. For the corresponding results before the recalculation, see previous SCS publications.

Concern about crime in society

More than one-third (35 %) of the population (aged 16–84) state that they, very often or quite often feel concerned about that someone close to them will be subjected to crime; this is the same level as the preceding year.

It is more common for women to be concerned that friends or family will be subjected to crime than for men. Concern that friends or family will be subjected to crime is most common for persons 45–54 years of age.

Concern about crime in society

Concern about crime in society (in large extent). Percentage of the population (aged 16–84) and for each gender, 2007–2018. Source: SCS 2018

The results regarding the 2007–2016 SCS are recalculated since the SCS was then carried out with another method. For the corresponding results before the recalculation, see previous SCS publications.

Concern about close friends and family

Approximately one in three persons (35%) state that at some point during the year they chose another route or another means of transportation as a result of concern about being a victim of crime, while almost one in eight (13%) refrained from an activity as a result of this concern.

Approximately one in five persons (22%) believe that their quality of life is affected as a result of unsafety.

Concern that someone close will be subjected to crime

Concern (very often/quite often) that someone close to them will be subjected to crime. Percentage of the population (aged 16–84) and for each gender, 2007–2018. Source: SCS 2018

The results regarding the 2007–2016 SCS are recalculated since the SCS was then carried out with another method. For the corresponding results before the recalculation, see previous SCS publications.

Concern about assault

The percentage of people stated that they are concerned very often or quite often about being a victim of assault is 10 per cent, which is the same level as 2017.

The percentage of people who are concerned about being a victim of assault is approximately the same for women and men, and the highest percentage is among women aged 20–24.

Concern about rape/sexual assault

The percentage of people who, in 2018, often are concerned about being a victim of rape or another type of sexual assault is 12 per cent of the population (aged 16–84), which is approximately the same level as 2017 (11 %).

It is significantly more common that women are concerned about being a victim of rape or another type of sexual assault than men. While among men, there is almost no difference between different age brackets (1–3 %), the differences between age brackets among women are significantly greater. In the 20–24 age bracket 47 per cent of the women state that they are often concerned about being a victim of rape or another type of sexual assault, whilst the corresponding percentage in the 75–84 age bracket is 4 per cent.

Concern about robbery

Among the respondents in the population (aged 16–84) there is 16 per cent in 2018 who state that they are concerned about being a victim of robbery, which is at the same level as 2017.

It is more common for women to be concerned about robbery than men, and the level is greatest among persons aged 20–24.

Concern about fraud on the Internet

In 2018, 25 per cent of the population (aged 16–84) state that they are concerned about being a victim of fraud on the Internet, which is approximately on the same level as 2017 (24 %).

It is slightly more common for women to be concerned about fraud on the Internet than men, and the percentage is greatest in the 45–54 age bracket, among both men and women.

Concern about burglary

In 2018, 28 per cent of the population (aged 16–84) state that they are concerned about burglary. The percentage was relatively stable during the first years, followed by an increase from 2012–2017, and in 2018 it is on the same level as 2017.

It is slightly more common for women to be concerned about burglary than men. The percentage concerned about burglary, among both men and women, is greatest in the 45–54 age brackets.

Concern about theft/vandalism of vehicle

Among the respondents who stated that someone in the household owns a car, 25 per cent are concerned that the household’s car will be stolen or vandalised, which is approximately the same level as 2017 (26 %). Until 2013, the percentage who are worried about the household’s car being stolen or vandalised decreased, followed by a gradual increase 2015–2017.

The percentage concerned about theft or vandalism of vehicle is, in principle, equally high for women and men. In respect of age, concern for vehicle-related offences is greatest among persons aged 45–54 and 55–64, among both women and men.

Consequences of feeling unsafe

Almost one-third (23 %) of the population (aged 16–84) state that they often have chosen another route or another mode of transport as a result of concern about being a victim of crime, while 12 per cent often have refrained from an activity as a result of this concern. Further, 20 per cent state that they often have refrained from an activity on the Internet as a result of concern about being a victim of threat or harassment, and 4 per cent of these never engage in activities on the Internet as a result of this concern. Lastly, 7 per cent state that their quality of life is affected to a great extent as a result of being concerned about being a victim of crime.

A comparison between men and women show that women state in a larger proportion than men that their feelings of being unsafe result in negative consequences, and these differences are greatest when it comes to choosing another route or another mode of transport.

Confidence in the criminal justice system

High (very/quite) degree of confidence in the criminal justice system. Percentage of the population (aged 16–84), 2007–2018 Source: SCS 2018

The results regarding the 2007–2016 SCS are recalculated since the SCS was then carried out with another method. For the corresponding results before the recalculation, see previous SCS publications.

The criminal justice system comprises several different public agencies and the SCS asks questions about the criminal justice system as a whole, as well as more specific questions regarding four of its agencies – the police, the public prosecutors, the courts, and the prison and probation service. The chapter on confidence in the criminal justice system reflects the interview subject’s perception at the time of the interview (2018).

Confidence in the criminal justice system as a whole

A little less than half (47%) of the population (aged 16–84) state that they have a high (very high or quite high) degree of confidence, in the criminal justice system as a whole, which is an increase from 2017 when the proportion was 44 per cent. The proportion with a high confidence increased between 2007–2009, and then remained stable until 2016, but in 2017 it declined. However, since confidence has increased again according to the 2018 survey, the proportion is back at the same level as before. It is more common for women to have a high degree of confidence in the criminal justice system as a whole than for men. In terms of age, the proportion is greatest in the age group 35–44 years.

Confidence in the police

The proportion of the population (aged 16–84) who state that they have a high degree of confidence in the police’s way of doing their work is 49 per cent, which is a clear increase from 2017, when the proportion was 42 per cent. The level was stable (with annual variations) until 2016, but 2017 saw a decrease in the share that states that they have a high degree of confidence. However, since the proportion has increased again according to the measurement for 2018, it is back at the same level as before.

It is more common for women to have a high degree of confidence in the police than for men. In terms of age, the youngest persons surveyed (aged 16–19 and 20–24) reflected the greatest percentage of individuals with a high degree of confidence in the police. 

Confidence in the public prosecutors

It is 36 per cent of the population (aged 16–84) who have a high degree of confidence in the public prosecutors’ way of doing their work, which in principle is at the same level as 2017, when the proportion was 35 per cent. The proportion increased until 2009 and then remained at a stable level until 2016, but decreased in 2017.

It is more common for women to have a high degree of confidence in the public prosecutors than for men. In terms of age, the proportion with a high degree of confidence in the public prosecutors is greatest in the age group 35–44 years.

Confidence in the courts

It is also 36 per cent of the population (aged 16–84) who state that they have a high degree of confidence in the courts’ way of doing their work, which is the same proportion as measured in 2017. The proportion with great confidence increased between 2007 and 2008 and then remained stable until 2016. In 2017, the proportion declined, and the lower level is thus also observed for 2018.

It is basically just as common among men as among women to have a high degree of confidence in the courts. In terms of age, the proportion with a high degree of confidence in the courts is greatest in the age group 35–44 years.

Confidence in the prison and probation service

It is 32 per cent of the population (aged 16–84) who have a high degree of confidence in the way in which the prison and probation service operates, which is a small increase from 2017, when the proportion was 30 per cent. The proportion with a high degree of confidence in the prison and probation service increased between 2007 and 2010 and has since remained relatively stable.

It is somewhat more common for women to have a high degree of confidence in the prison and probation service than for men. In terms of age, the proportion is greatest in the age group 20–24 years.

Confidence that the criminal justice system as a whole treats suspects fairly

The results for 2018 show that 40 per cent of the population (aged 16–84) have a high degree of confidence that the criminal justice system as a whole treats those suspected of crimes fairly, which is a small increase from 2017 when the proportion was 38 per cent. The proportion increased between 2007 and 2008 and has since remained relatively stable.

It is basically just as common among men as among women to have a high degree of confidence that the criminal justice system as a whole treats those suspected of crimes fairly. In terms of age, the proportion is greatest in the age group 35–44 years.

Confidence that the police treats suspects fairly

The results for 2018 show that 47 per cent of the population (aged 16–84) have a high degree of confidence that the police treats those suspected of crimes fairly, which is an increase from 2017 when the proportion was 43 per cent. The proportion has generally been at a stable level until this latest increase, and it remains to be seen whether the increase is the beginning of a new trend or a temporary deviation from the otherwise stable level.

It is basically just as common among men as among women to have a high degree of confidence that the police treats those suspected of crimes fairly. In terms of age, the proportion is greatest in the age group 35–44 years.

Confidence that the criminal justice system as a whole treats crime victims in a good way

The results for 2018 show that 26 per cent of the population (aged 16–84) have a high degree of confidence that the criminal justice system as a whole treats crime victims in a good way, which in principle is at the same level as 2017, when the proportion was 25 per cent. The proportion with a high degree of confidence increased slightly at the beginning of the measurement period and has subsequently remained at a relatively stable level.

It is somewhat more common for women to have a high degree of confidence that the criminal justice system as a whole treats crime victims in a good way than for men. In terms of age, the proportion is greatest in the age group 16–19 years.

Confidence that the police treats crime victims in a good way

The results for 2018 show that 41 per cent of the population (aged 16–84) have a high degree of confidence that the police treats crime victims in a good way, which is an increase from 2017 when the proportion was 38 per cent. The proportion with a high degree of confidence has remained stable throughout the measurement period, and it remains to be seen whether this latest increase is the beginning of an increasing trend or whether there is a temporary deviation from the otherwise stable level.

It is somewhat more common for women to have a high degree of confidence that the police treats crime victims in a good way than for men. In terms of age, the proportion is greatest in the age group 16–19 years.

Experiences of the police

Experiences of the police among those who have been subjected to any crime reported to the police during the last three years, according to the 2007–2018 SCS. Percentage of persons who have very/quite positive experience of the police, and who are very/quite satisfied with different parts of the police’s work. Source: SCS 2018

The results regarding the 2007–2016 SCS are recalculated since the SCS was then carried out with another method. For the corresponding results before the recalculation, see previous SCS publications. Questions about experiences of different parts of the police’s work began in 2009.

Crime victims’ contacts with the justice system

When a person has been subjected to an offence that is reported to the police, the person gets, and gain experience of, one or more of the agencies within the criminal justice system. The experience is customarily limited to the person’s contact with the police in connection with the police report, but may also comprise contact with public prosecutors, counsel for injured parties and, in the event the offence comes to trial, courts. The chapter on crime victims’ contacts with the criminal justice system reports experiences from the most recent three years (as of the date of the question).

Experience of the police in connection with reporting a crime to the police

The 2018 SCS shows that 24 per cent of the population (aged 16–84) have been subjected to any crime that has been reported to the police during the last three years.

Of these, 44 per cent stated that they overall had positive experiences with the police, which in principle is at the same level as 2017 (45 per cent).The proportion has remained at a stable level for most of the measurement period, however, a slight decrease can be seen for the last three years. When comparing crimes with and without violence, the proportion with positive experiences is at about the same level.

With regard to various parts of the police’s work, the victims are most satisfied with the way the police have treated them (54 %) and with the accessibility of the police (49 %), but less satisfied with the information they have received regarding how the police are working with their case (34 %) and with the police’s effectiveness in investigating the crime (19 %). When comparing crimes with and without elements of threats or violence, the proportion of satisfaction is greater when the incident has not entailed threats or violence, seen to the majority of the questions about the police’s work. The exception is the question of the police’s effectiveness, where the proportion is greater in cases where the offence has contained threats or violence.

Women state that they have positive experience of the police more often than men, in terms of both the overall experience of the police and the various parts of the police’s work, and in terms of age, the proportion with positive experiences is greatest among the oldest age groups.

Experience with public prosecutors or courts

Approximately 1.9 per cent of the population state that they have been in contact with public prosecutors as a result of having been a victim of crime sometime during the last three years, even if the investigation did not subsequently lead to trial. Of these people, 41 per cent state that they experienced their contact with public prosecutors positively.

Of the population aged 16–84, 1.0 per cent state that they have participated as an injured party in a trial during the most recent three years. Of these persons, 56 per cent state that they are satisfied with the way they were treated in court. Furthermore, 65 per cent state that they thought it was easy to understand the trial, and 53 per cent feel that they have received enough information before the trial.

Of those who have participated in a trial as an injured party it is 64 per cent who had a counsel for an injured party. Of these persons, 69 per cent describe their experience of the counsel for an injured party as positive.

Women have positive experiences to a greater extent than men when it comes to experience of prosecutors, courts and injured party counsels, while there are basically no differences between women and men seen in understanding the trial and experience of information before the trial.

Publications

Swedish Crime Survey 2018 English summary of Brå report 2019:1 (2019)