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CRIME

IN NUMBERS: Which Swiss cities have the highest crime rates?

A new study based on police statistics showed that 5.4 violent crimes were committed per 1,000 inhabitants across Switzerland in 2020. What was the situation in major cities?

IN NUMBERS: Which Swiss cities have the highest crime rates?
Despite a spate of infractions, the crime rate in Switzerland remains relatively low. Photo by Nathalie OLOF-ORS / AFP

The figures released by the Federal Statistical Office on Monday show that thefts were by far the most common offenses.

Bern

In 2020, 9.4 violent crimes were committed per 1,000 inhabitants in the country’s capital. Of those 1.7 involved assaults, 1.4 threats, 1.8 bodily harm, 2.3 threats and violence against officials and 1.1 robbery.

Additionally, 40.1 thefts (excluding shoplifting) were reported per 1,000 inhabitants. Of those 5.6 were break-ins, 11.4 involved stolen bicycles and 2 vehicle thefts.

Zurich

Switzerland’s largest city registered 11.1 violent crimes per 1,000 inhabitants, 2.9 assaults, 1.6 threats, 2.1 bodily harm, 1 threat and violence against officials, and 0.8 robberies.

There were 35 thefts (excluding shoplifting) per 1,000 inhabitants. Of those 7.1 were break-ins, 7.2 stolen bicycles and 2.4 vehicles.

READ MORE: Safety in Switzerland: Which areas do Zurich residents avoid at night?

Basel

There were 13.1 violent crimes per 1,000 inhabitants in Basel, 4.3 of these were assaults, 2.9 threats, 1.8 bodily harm, 1.7 threats and violence against officials, and 0.6 robbery.

Apart from shoplifting, there were 42.9 thefts per 1,000 inhabitants. 6.1 of these were break-ins, 13.4 were stolen bicycles, and 3.7 vehicle thefts. 

Geneva

Some 10.4 violent crimes per 1,000 inhabitants were recorded in 2020. Of these, 1.3 of were were assaults, 2.5 threats, 3.3 physical harm, 0.4 threats and violence against officials, and 1.2 robberies.

Also registered were 51.8 thefts (excluding shoplifting), of which 8.2 were break-ins and 6.1 were stolen bicycles, and 3.6 vehicle thefts.

What about the rest of Switzerland?

In smaller cities, the number of burglaries fell slightly, statistics show, but there is no mention of whether this was due to periods of confinement.

For instance, in La Chaux-de-Fonds there was a decrease of 1.8 cases per 1,000 inhabitants, in Lausanne it was 1.6, in Yverdon-les-Bains 1.4, in St. Gallen and Zurich, 1.2.

While overall there was a slight increase — from 5.3 to 5.4 per 1,000 — in violent crimes throughout the country, in some towns the numbers dropped: in Yverdon-les-Bains (minus 2.3 cases per 1,000), Fribourg (-0.8), Lausanne and Bellinzona (-0.7) .  However, the federal government stated that the frequency of violent crimes may be overestimated in some cities. 

How do you make sense of these figures? 

The best way is to put them in a larger context. Globally, Switzerland consistently ranks among the world’s safest countries. 

For instance, it was number 1 in terms of safety in the US News and World Report ranking in 2020,  and ranked among the nations with lowest crime rates in other international studies as well.

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CRIME

Swiss woman indicted over ‘jihadist knife attack’ in department store

Swiss prosecutors said Wednesday they had indicted a woman for attempted murder on behalf of the Islamic State (IS) group over a brutal knife attack in November 2020.

Swiss woman indicted over 'jihadist knife attack' in department store

The 29-year-old unnamed woman allegedly attacked two women in a department store in the southern city of Lugano.

She has been charged with attempted murder and violating laws against association with Al-Qaeda, IS and related groups, according to the indictment.

She was also charged with unlawful prostitution.

EXPLAINED: Does Switzerland face a threat from terrorism?

The attorney general’s office said the indictment related to a “jihadist knife attack” and the alleged assailant, a Swiss citizen, “intended to kill her victims and to commit a terrorist act on behalf of IS.”

“The suspect acted wilfully and with particular ruthlessness. She brutally attacked her randomly-selected victims with a knife, with the aim of killing them and thereby spreading terror throughout the population on behalf of the ‘Islamic State’,” it said.

One of the two victims sustained serious neck injuries while the second victim, with help from others at the scene, managed to overpower her attacker and hold her until police arrived.

The attacker was arrested and detained. Police quickly discovered she had been linked to a 2017 jihadism investigation.

The woman had formed a relationship on social media with a jihadist fighter in Syria and attempted to travel to the war-torn country to meet him, police alleged at the time.

She was stopped by Turkish authorities at the Syrian border and sent back to Switzerland, they said, adding that the woman had suffered from mental health problems and been admitted to a psychiatric clinic.

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