The new National Security Survey, an annual crime report by Sweden's Crime Prevention Council, has yielded contradictory results, sparking debate.
While the proportion of Swedes who claim that they've been the victim of sexual offences has decreased somewhat, the report highlighted marked differences with respect to vulnerability, peaking at an astonishing 34.4 percent of women in the age group 20-24. Another 17.8 percent of women, in the 16-19 age cohort, reported that they'd been harassed. The overall exposure to crime has been rising steadily for years.
In general, 6.0 percent of the population self-reported being subjected to sexual offences in 2018, against 6.4 percent in 2017. However, the number of reported sexual crimes has still multiplied over the course of the last several years. In 2011, the corresponding figure was only 1.4 percent.
“Seen over a longer period of time, sexual offences have had the clearest development, as the proportion who claim vulnerability clearly increased up to and including 2017. In the latest measurement, though, a decrease is seen, and it remains to be seen if this is the beginning of a downward trend,” Brå wrote.
In general, the proportion of people who claim to have been exposed to crime increased to 26.4 percent from 24.7 percent in 2017. This includes all categories of crime, except for pocket theft and sex crimes, and signals a clear upward trend for, among others, robberies, threats and abuse.
While some of the mainstream media tried to sugarcoat the findings by citing an increased confidence in police, journalist Joakim Lamotte reacted strongly to the positive angling.
“According to this report, all crimes except sexual crimes have increased substantially. As far as sexual crimes are concerned, we have seen an avalanche increase since 2014, and it would be absurd if that figure continued to rise forever. Now, the proportion of sexual crimes is 6 percent. In 2014, it was 2 percent. In four years, the sex crimes in Sweden have increased threefold, which is a disaster,” Lamotte, who is known for his reporting on sex-related crimes, wrote on Facebook. "A more appropriate headline should be: 'New report shows that crime and insecurity in Sweden set new records'," he suggested.
The National Security Survey itself has illustrated the trend by indicating that almost half of young Swedish women (45 percent) last year took a different route when walking, due to insecurity and fears of crime.
In 2018, about 22,500 sexual crimes were reported in Sweden, of which 7,960 were classified as rape.