Sweden’s new lethal violence stats for 2016 analyzed

The rate of lethal violence in Sweden remained at a consistent level in 2016 compared to the previous decade, but a high level in 2017 would mark the start of a change in trend.

Sweden's new lethal violence stats for 2016 analyzed
File photo of a Swedish Police cordon. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

That's according to Sweden's National Council for Crime Prevention (Brå), who have just released their final figures for lethal violence in the country during 2016. The numbers show that there were 106 cases of lethal violence in the Nordic nation last year, a slight decrease compared to the 112 in 2015.

In 2013 and 2014 meanwhile there were 87 instances, but if the average for the last five years is calculated then it lies at 92 cases of lethal violence per year – the same as the level has been since 2002.

“There's no big difference between last year and the previous 10 year period in general. You can say that it's consistent,” Brå’s lethal violence statistician and analyst Nina Forselius told The Local.

“The last two years were at a slightly higher level, but it's still too early to say there's a change in trend, because if you look at the last five years it averages out at 92, and the average has been 92 since 2002. It has been steady. If there was a high level over the next year, then we could start to see a slightly higher average, but for now we can't say that there's any change in direction.”

READ ALSO: Analysis of Sweden's crime stats for 2016

Seen over a longer period of time, the level of lethal violence in Sweden is lower than it was in the 1990s, where the average was 100 instances per year, before dropping to the region of 92 in the 2000s.

“If you look from 2000 until now, we're actually about a tenth lower than during the 1990s,” Forselius observed.

Graph charting the lethal violence trend in Sweden since 2002. The dark line shows the total, the lightest line shows cases where a woman was the victim, and the medium-tone line cases where it was a man. Photo: Brå

Shootings in particular have made headlines in Sweden recently, with high profile cases occurring in the country's major cities during 2016, but Brå's stats show that the level of lethal shootings remained around the same as the average for the last five years.

Shootings accounted for 28 percent of instances of lethal violence in Sweden in 2016, down marginally from 29 percent in 2015 as well as the overall average for the last five years of 29 percent.

“That particular kind of crime is reported about a lot in the media, which means that you can end up with the perception of it happening very often if for example the same instance is reported about several times. And when these kind of crimes happen they're pushed quite hard, so there's a connection there,” Forselius explained.

The proportion of lethal violence shootings account for in Sweden since 2012 (29 percent) is however higher than it was during the 1990s, when they made up 20 percent.

Brå defines lethal violence as murder, manslaughter, infanticide and assault with the outcome of death, but does not include instances deemed to be self-defence.


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.