Rape Case Surge Puts Focus on Crime as Swedish Election Looms

(Bloomberg) -- Crime has become one of the hot-button issues ahead of Sweden’s election in September.

And the final data from 2017 show that security in Sweden has been going the wrong way in recent years. The country has seen a continued rise in reported rapes, which increased 10 percent last year and are up 35 percent over the past 10 years. The number of reported rape cases was 73 per 100,000 citizens in 2017, up 24 percent in the past decade.

Rape Case Surge Puts Focus on Crime as Swedish Election Looms

According to the Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention (BRA), one explanation is that the legal definition of rape has been expanded. There’s also an increased willingness to report rape. Still, it’s hard to fully explain the increase, according to Nina Forselius, a researcher at BRA, who added that there was no clear “#MeToo-effect” in last year’s data.

Gang shootings and criminality have ended up at the forefront of the political agenda ahead of the election. Prime Minister Stefan Lofven and opposition parties have pledged to battle gang violence by increasing spending on police and sharpening punishment.

The police have been criticized for failing to clear up crimes and for an inability to control the volatile suburbs surrounding Sweden’s major cities. Shootings and the news of hand-grenade attacks have made major headlines.

The number of cases of deadly violence has surged in the past three years to an average of 110 per year from 81 in the preceding three-year period due partly to a rising number of deadly incidents with firearms, which has mostly killed men in the largest cities. But when looking at it per capita, deadly violence has remained largely unchanged (at between 0.7 and 1.2 cases per 100,000 citizens since 2002).

That’s because Sweden’s population is booming, reaching 10 million last year due to a record inflow of migrants from mainly Syria and Afghanistan in recent years as well as high birth rates. The government has since tightened immigration rules to cool the inflow.

Overall last year, the number of crimes reported in Sweden was largely unchanged at 1.51 million.

Rape Case Surge Puts Focus on Crime as Swedish Election Looms

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