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).


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.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


Swedish opposition proposes ‘rapid tests for ADHD’ to cut gang crime

The Moderate Party in Stockholm has called for children in so called "vulnerable areas" to be given rapid tests for ADHD to increase treatment and cut gang crime.

Swedish opposition proposes 'rapid tests for ADHD' to cut gang crime

In a press release, the party proposed that treating more children in troubled city areas would help prevent gang crime, given that “people with ADHD diagnoses are “significantly over-represented in the country’s jails”. 

The idea is that children in so-called “vulnerable areas”, which in Sweden normally have a high majority of first and second-generation generation immigrants, will be given “simpler, voluntary tests”, which would screen for ADHD, with those suspected of having the neuropsychiatric disorder then put forward for proper evaluations to be given by a child psychiatrist. 

“The quicker you can put in place measures, the better the outcomes,” says Irene Svenonius, the party’s leader in the municipality, of ADHD treatment, claiming that children in Sweden with an immigrant background were less likely to be medicated for ADHD than other children in Sweden. 

In the press release, the party said that there were “significant differences in the diagnosis and treatment of ADHD within Stockholm country”, with Swedish-born children receiving diagnosis and treatment to a higher extent, and with ADHD “with the greatest probability” underdiagnosed in vulnerable areas. 

At a press conference, the party’s justice spokesman Johan Forsell, said that identifying children with ADHD in this areas would help fight gang crime. 

“We need to find these children, and that is going to help prevent crime,” he said. 

Sweden’s climate minister Annika Strandhäll accused the Moderates of wanting to “medicate away criminality”. 

Lotta Häyrynen, editor of the trade union-backed comment site Nya Mitten, pointed out that the Moderates’s claim to want to help children with neuropsychiatric diagnoses in vulnerable areas would be more credible if they had not closed down seven child and youth psychiatry units. 

The Moderate Party MP and debater Hanif Bali complained about the opposition from left-wing commentators and politicians.

“My spontaneous guess would have been that the Left would have thought it was enormously unjust that three times so many immigrant children are not getting a diagnosis or treatment compared to pure-Swedish children,” he said. “Their hate for the Right is stronger than their care for the children. 

Swedish vocab: brottsförebyggande – preventative of crime