Crime statistics - Statistics Explained

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Crime statistics

Data extracted in July 2020

Planned article update: August 2021


Police-recorded robberies in the EU-27 fell by 34 % between 2012 and 2018.
3 993 police-recorded intentional homicides were observed in the EU-27 in 2018, a reduction of 30 % compared with 2008.
Crime statistics robbery 2018data-02.jpg

The statistics presented in this article are based on official figures for police-recorded offences (criminal acts) in Europe during 2008-2018. The results cover the European Union (EU-27), the three jurisdictions of the United Kingdom, the EFTA countries, as well as partially the candidate countries and the potential candidate countries.

Full article

Robberies down by 34 % in the EU-27 between 2012 and 2018

Between 2012 and 2018, police-recorded robberies in the EU-27 fell by 34 %, to about 299 000. By contrast, there was a 8.8 % increase between 2008 and 2012, the high point during the period 2008-2018, as shown in Figure 1. The figures for 2018 are missing for Estonia, France, Luxembourg, and Finland, so the exact change for the EU-27 from 2017 to 2018 is somewhat uncertain. From 2017 to 2018 there were decreases in most EU-27 countries, while the largest relative increases were in Ireland (8 %) and Slovenia (11 %).

Figure 1: Robbery (police-recorded offences), EU-27, 2008-2018
(number of offences)
Source: Eurostat (crim_off_cat)

Figure 2 shows police-recorded robberies relative to population size (number of offences per 100 000 inhabitants). On average for the period 2016-2018, the highest rates in the EU-27 were observed in Belgium (154.3), France (153.3), Spain (132.5), and Portugal (115.5), while the lowest rates were found in Estonia (17.1), Romania (16.2), Czechia (14.6), Slovenia (11.7), Cyprus (10.5), Slovakia (9.0), and Hungary (9.0). Among the EFTA countries, Switzerland had the highest rate at 20.9 police-recorded robberies per 100 000 inhabitants.

Figure 2: Robbery, average 2016-2018
(police-recorded offences per hundred thousand inhabitants)
Source: Eurostat (crim_off_cat)

3 993 intentional homicides in the EU-27 in 2018

There were 3 993 police-recorded intentional homicides in the EU-27 in 2018, a reduction of nearly 30 % since 2008. Table 1 shows the reported figures by country.

Table 1: Intentional homicide, 2008-2018
(number of police-recorded offences)
Source: Eurostat (crim_off_cat)

Figure 3 shows intentional homicide relative to the population size (police-recorded offences per hundred thousand inhabitants). In 2018, the highest figures were observed in Latvia (5.2), Lithuania (3.5), and Estonia (1.9). In 15 countries the rate was below 1 per 100 000.

Figure 3: Intentional homicide, 2018
(police-recorded offences per hundred thousand inhabitants)
Source: Eurostat (crim_off_cat)

583 000 assaults in the EU-27 in 2018

In the EU-27, police-recorded assaults numbered around 583 000 in 2018, down 6.2 % from 621 500 in 2010. As shown in Figure 4, the trend was generally decreasing during 2010-2018. However, it should be noted that the "EU totals" for 2016-2018 are partly based on previous figures, due to missing figures from France (2017-2018) and Hungary (2016-2018). The reported figures show an increasing trend in France 2010-2016 (232 000 to 243 000), and a decrease in Hungary 2010-2015 (14 600 to 12 500).

The number of police-recorded assaults varies widely across the EU-27, even relative to population size. Different laws, reporting rate and recording practices affect comparison between countries. For instance, in addition to serious assault, some national figures include minor assault, lethal assault (manslaughter, murder, etc.) or sexual assault (which usually is counted separately).

Figure 4: Assault, EU-27, 2010-2018
(number of police-recorded offences)
Source: Eurostat (crim_off_cat)

528 000 car thefts in the EU-27 2018

In the EU-27 there were about 528 000 police-recorded car thefts in 2018, an about 40 % reduction compared with 2008. Note, however, that for France (2017-2018), Cyprus (2018), and Hungary (2016-2018) for the missing figures the latest available year's figure has been used. As shown in Figure 5, there has been a downward trend in the EU-27 as a whole 2008-2018. In contrast, Ireland and Croatia had an 8 % increase in police-recorded car-thefts between 2017 and 2018.

Figure 5: Theft of a motorized land vehicle, EU-27, 2008-2018
(number of police recorded offences)
Source: Eurostat (crim_off_cat)

For police-recorded car thefts per 100 000 inhabitants, the figures (average 2016-2018) were highest in Greece (260.6), Italy (244.2), France (241.9), Sweden (237.3), and the Netherlands (169.3). The lowest figures in the EU-27 were observed in Slovakia (27.8), Estonia (25.1), Croatia (21.4), Romania (10.8) and Denmark (4.0). Among EFTA countries, Switzerland had the highest figure, 80.5 car thefts per 100 000 inhabitants.

"Car theft" includes theft of motorcycles, passenger cars, buses, coaches, lorries, trucks, bulldozers, etc., but reporting and recording practices vary and affect comparison across countries and years.

Figure 6: Theft of a motorized land vehicle, average 2016-2018
(police recorded offences per hundred thousand inhabitants)
Source: Eurostat (crim_off_cat)

Source data for tables and graphs

Excel.jpg Source data for tables and graphs

Data sources

Statistics on crime and criminal justice systems in general

Data sources include police and other law enforcement agencies, public prosecutors, law courts, prisons, relevant ministries, and statistical offices. The national authorities are responsible for official figures that are sent to Eurostat and to the United Nations (UN Survey on Crime Trends and Operations of Criminal Justice Systems).

The data of this article

This article presents results based on official figures for police-recorded offences (criminal acts) from 2008 onwards. Eurostat updates the web database when countries send new figures, which may differ from figures presented in previous web articles. A major problem for crime statistics at European level is missing figures. Several of the EU totals in this article were adjusted due to this. For instance if a 2017 figure was missing, the figure for 2016 was used from same country for the same crime. In some cases, an average of the year before and after is used. Another method to deal with missing data is to compare three-year averages. For some crimes, simply too much data are missing for an EU total to be presented. The web database contains figures as reported (no adjustment).

Particular crimes

Additional data on intentional homicide, rape, and sexual assault:

Earlier data


Crime statistics are used by EU institutions, national authorities, media, politicians, organisations, and the general public. Each state establishes its criminal laws, define crimes, legal proceedings and justice reactions, as well as specifications for official crime statistics (except for crimes that are covered by international or EU law). Typically, crime statistics is less comparable between states than internationally specified statistics.

For all their different criminal laws, it could also be argued that there are many similarities between European countries. This, combined with public and political interest, was the background for developing an EU-wide crime statistics. Over the last decade, EU institutions, national authorities, and the UN have cooperated to improve European crime statistics. A major quality improvement is to use a common classification of crimes.

Official crime statistics mainly reflect how the authorities register and handle cases. The figures are provided by national authorities such as the police, prosecution, courts, and prisons. Of those, police figures give the broadest picture, as they include recorded offences, whether or not they led to prosecution. Still, the police records do not measure the total occurrence of crime. Simply put, the total occurrence would be the reported plus the unreported, minus the incorrectly reported. It is fair to assume that the reporting rate is high when a police record is required to support an insurance claim (e.g. car theft and burglary).

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