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CRIME

Hate crimes increase in Sweden: Here’s a breakdown of the stats

The number of hate crimes reported in Sweden grew in 2018, according to new figures from the Swedish crime statistics agency. But few cases ever go to court.

Hate crimes increase in Sweden: Here's a breakdown of the stats

A total of 7,090 crimes reported to the police last year were identified by the Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention (Brå) as being linked to hate motives in their latest report. 

That's an 11 percent increase compared to the last report from 2016, and 29 percent on 2013.

The motives were broken down as follows:

Xenophobic/racist: 69 percent (4,870 reports)

Sexual orientation: 11 percent (760 reports)

Islamophobic: 8 percent (560 reports)

Christianophobic: 4 percent (290 reports)

Anti-Semitic: 4 percent (280 reports)

Other anti-religious motives: 4 percent (260 reports)

Transphobic: 1 percent (80 reports)

Compared to 2016, anti-Semitic hate crimes saw the biggest increase (up by 53 percent between 2016 and 2018) followed by hate crimes linked to a person's sexual orientation (37 percent).

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The proportion of cases in relation to agitation against a population group (hets mot folkgrupp) almost doubled in the same time period, increasing from around 640 to around 1,160 offences – that's an 82 percent increase, or in other words an increase from 10 percent of all hate crimes to 16 percent.

The majority of these incidents were committed against a backdrop of Afrophobia, anti-Semitism or Islamophobia, as well as sexual orientation, said Brå in the report, which was released on Thursday.

Part of the increase is believed to be explained by several campaigns aiming to raise awareness of hate crimes committed online, which has led to more people reporting such incidents when they occur.

Violent crimes (which include homicide, assault and violence against a public servant) linked to hate crime on the other hand dropped five percent according to the report, from 810 such cases in 2016 to 772 last year.


Fifteen percent of reported offences happened on the internet, according to Brå. Photo: Naina Helén Jåma/TT

On the whole, the proportion of violent crimes compared to the total number of hate crimes has fallen from 18-21 percent in 2008-2011 to around 11-13 percent since 2015. In the same period, criminal damage/graffiti linked to hate crimes has increased from less than 11 percent to 15-16 percent from 2015 onwards.

It remains rare for hate crimes to lead to criminal charges.

The more than 6,000 reported incidents in 2016 had a person-based clearance rate – which means that a person was prosecuted or granted a waiver of prosecution – of only three percent as of June 2019.

But the clearance rate varies depending on a number of factors, for example the nature of the offence and how hard it is to investigate or link to a suspect: anti-Semitic hate crimes had a clearance rate of nine percent, while for incidents linked to anti-Roma motives, none of the suspected offences saw a person prosecuted.

Brå noted that apart from assault and unlawful threats, most of the types of offences that make up the hate crime statistics generally have a clearance rate of 0-5 percent, regardless of whether or not they are linked to hate crimes. “However, without also analysing how police and prosecutors work with the investigations, no definitive conclusions can be drawn about the reasons for the size of the clearance rate,” stated the report.

Read Brå's full report here (in Swedish) or an English summary here.

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CRIME

Swedish terror attacker sentenced to psychiatric care

A court has sentenced the far-right extremist Theodor Engström to psychiatric care for the knife attack he carried out at the Almedalen political festival this summer.

Swedish terror attacker sentenced to psychiatric care

The Gotland district court found the 33-year-old Engström guilty of murdering the psychiatrist Ing-Marie Wieselgren, but did not agree that the murder counted as a terror attack.

It did find him guilty, however, of “planning a terror attack”, for his preparations to murder the Centre Party’s leader, Annie Lööf. 

“The murdered woman had a significant role [in society], a murder is always serious, and this had consequences both for Almedalen Week and for society more broadly,” the judge Per Sundberg, said at a press conference. 

The judge Per Sundberg announces the sentence on Theodor Engström on December 6th. Photo: Karl Melander/TT

But he said that the court judged that Sweden’s terror legislation was too restrictively drafted for her murder to count as a terror offence. 

“Despite Ing-Marie Wieselgren’s well-attested position within psychiatry, the court considers that her position as national coordinator at the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions is not such that her murder can in itself be considered to have damaged Sweden. The act cannot as a result be classified as a terrorist crime on those grounds.” 

The court ruled that Engström’s crimes deserved Sweden’s most severe sentence, a life sentence in prison, but found that due to his disturbed mental state he should instead receive “psychiatric care with a special test for release”. 

In its judgement, the court said that an examination by forensic psychiatrists had found both that there were “medical reasons” why Engström should be transferred into a closed psychiatric facility and that “his insight into the meaning of his actions and his ability to adjust his actions according to such insight were at the very least severely diminished”. 

It said that under Swedish law, a court could send someone to prison who was in need of psychiatric care only if there were “special reasons” to do so. 

“The court considers that it has not been shown that Theodor Engström’s need of psychiatric care is so limited that there is a special reason for a prison sentence,” it ruled. 

Lööf wrote on Instagram that the judgement was “a relief”. 

“For me personally, it was a relief when the judgement came,” she wrote. “Engström has also been judged guilty of ‘preparation for a terror attack through preparation for murder’. This means that the the court is taking the threat towards democracy and towards politicians as extremely serious.”

The fact that the court has decided that Engström’s care should have a “special test for release” means that he cannot be discharged from the closed psychiatric hospital or ward where he is treated without a court decision. 

The court must rule both that the mental disorder that led to the crime has abated to the extent that there is no risk of further crimes, and that he has no other mental disorders that might require compulsory psychiatric care. The care has to be reassessed every six months. 

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