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Scandinavia Today / Sweden



Violent crime is falling in Sweden and across the western world – a Swedish compilation

Wednesday, 16 October 2013
The amount of violent crimes in Sweden and the world is falling as many murders and street violence is decreasing. In 2012, 62 people were killed in Sweden, it is half compared to the late 80s.

According to a compilation made by the Swedish daily, Dagens Nyheter, the trend observed in Sweden seems to be similar in the rest of the western world. In the U.S.A, the number of murders there seem to be halving - New York City is showing a murder figure not seen since the 1950s, the paper writes.

The reduction in violence stand in contrast to the image that is often given by policy makers, NGOs and the media: that the streets are becoming less safe and that serious violence is only increasing.

The number of victims of street violence is also said to be on the decrease. In the past five years, Swedish hospitals in Stockholm received 30 percent fewer patients injured in street violence, the analysis show. Specifically, the paper stress that the number of people received in Södersjukhusets (Southern Hospital) emergency room in Stockholm, as victims of street violence fell by nearly a third between 2007 and 2012. This is bolstered by a new survey from Linnaeus University Sweden. Viewed over the entire period of studied, that is between 2001and 2012, the decline is a fifth.Violent crimes

In relation to the population, the decline is even more pronounced. The number of young people between 15 and 24 in Stockholm, an age group that is strongly over-represented in terms of violent crime, have been able increased by a quarter during the same period. But the crimes in relation to them has dropped.

The worst violence has declined in Sweden for 20 years, data from the Swedish Crime Prevention Council, Brå also show, according to the paper. The number of murders last year, stood at 62, which is the lowest since the 1960s. Homicide rate has more than halved since the most violence in the years around 1990 and now present a period described as one of the very lowest in Europe.
Why violent crime has gone down has not been properly established however, criminologist Jerzy Sarnecki speculates that it could be that we have simply become more civilized.
“Actually, it's part of a long-term development. With youth and anti-authority rebellion in the 1960s - and the 1970s came an increase in crime, but since then the social control in society has increased again,” he told the paper.
Another explaining in Sweden is the change in the way Sweden used to deal with alcohol, previously strongly linked to violence. In the 1990s, that change of feeling towards alcohol began to be observe. Open borders and liberal rules increased availability of cheap alcohol dramatically.
“Here we should have had a violent increase in the abuse and murder. It was instead the contrary. The worst violence was down,” said crime researcher Sven Granath, who authored the new street violence study to Dagens Nyheter
Even among young people, there had been increased alcohol consumption. But violence has instead declined markedly during the 2000s. This is coupled with the emergence of the IT revolution which came along with social change. When young people are socializing via computer games and social media, there are fewer opportunities for violence, and they are not drunk as often. The most obvious change is visible among boys.
Despite that, the only type of violent crime that nevertheless has increased is that perpetuated by criminal gangs. It is still at a relatively modest level compared to many other countries, but spectacular shootings always get headlines.
According to Jerzy Sarnecki we may be heading towards a polarization, where organized crime accounts for a growing share of the gross violence in line with the decrease in the rest of society.
By Team

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