Statistics Explained

Crime statistics


Data extracted in June 2022

Planned article update: June 2023

Highlights


After decreasing since 2016, intentional homicides in the EU increased by 3.5% in 2020; women accounted for 37% of the victims of intentional homicide compared with 36% in 2019.
Female victims of intentional homicide killed by family members or intimate partners increased to 4.3 per one million women in 2020 as a possible effect of COVID-19 restrictions, an increase of 9.9 % calculated on responding countries that cover 78% of EU population.

Serious assaults and drug-related crimes, which had been on an upward trend for a number of years, decreased slightly in 2020; sexual violence offences, in an increasing trend, remained stable in 2020.

As a possible result of the COVID-19 pandemic, police-recorded crimes against property in the EU decreased in 2020: robberies and thefts dropped by 19% and burglaries by 13% compared with the previous year.
[[File:Crime statistics infographic 03-06-2022 V2.xlsx]]

Robbery, police-recorded offences per hundred thousand inhabitants, 2020

The statistics presented in this article are based on official figures for police-recorded offences (criminal acts) in Europe between 2008 and 2020. The results cover the European Union (EU), the EFTA countries, as well as the candidate countries and the potential candidate countries. The number of police-recorded crimes varies widely across the EU, even relative to population size, due to different laws, recording practices and reporting to the police, that affect comparison. The crimes are classified accordingly to the ICCS (International Classification of Crime for Statistical Purposes). Counting methodologies for offences and persons should be applied. Countries' compliance with the classification of crimes and counting methodologies is explained in the general and countries metadata and in the police-recorded offences metadata.


Full article


4 032 intentional homicides in the EU in 2020, a slight increase after decreasing since 2016

After many years of decline and the lowest value reached in 2019, there were, in 2020, 4 032[1] police-recorded intentional homicides in the EU, with a 3.5 % increase compared to the previous year. The number of intentional homicides in 2020 surpassed the 2019 figures in 14 EU countries out of 26 that provided data. Table 1 shows the reported figures by country.

Table 1: Intentional homicide, 2008-2020
(number of police-recorded offences)
Source: Eurostat (crim_off_cat)

Figure 1 shows intentional homicide in relation to the population size (police-recorded offences per 100 000 inhabitants). In 2020, 0.90 intentional homicides were recorded by the police per 100 000 inhabitants in the EU. Comparing to the previous year (0.87) the rate has increased slightly (+ 0.03). As regards the EU countries, the highest rates, in 2020, were recorded in Latvia (4.9), Lithuania (3.5) and Estonia (2.8) followed by seven countries with a rate between 1 and 2 intentional homicides per 100 000 inhabitants (Cyprus, Romania, France, Belgium, Sweden, Malta, Slovakia). In 14 countries the rate was between 0.5 and 1.0 per 100 000 inhabitants and in Italy and Luxembourg it was below 0.5.

Figure 1: Intentional homicide, 2019-2020
(police-recorded offences per 100 000 inhabitants)
Source: Eurostat (crim_off_cat)

In 2020, women accounted for 37 % of the victims of intentional homicide

As shown in Figure 2, in 2020 37 % of intentional homicide victims in the EU were women, a slight increase compared with the previous year (36 % in 2019). There were more women than men among the victims in Latvia, Austria, Slovenia, Czechia and for the EFTA countries in Liechtenstein, Iceland and Switzerland. In Hungary, Croatia, Slovakia, Germany, the Netherlands and Italy the share of women was higher than 40 %. The share was lower than 30 % in Lithuania, France, Cyprus, Greece, Estonia, Sweden, Ireland and Malta. In 15 out of 23 countries that provided data for both years, the percentage of women among intentional homicide victims increased from 2019.

Figure 2: Intentional homicide victims, % of females, 2019-2020
Source: Eurostat (crim_hom_soff)

Women victims of intentional homicide killed by family members or intimate partners (per million women) increased from 3.9 in 2019 to 4.3 in 2020

As shown in Figure 3, the number of women killed by family members or intimate partners in relation to population size increased in 2020 compared with the previous year, which may be an effect of COVID-19 restrictions. Looking at the figures per million of women, the rate increased from 3.9 in 2019 to 4.3 in 2020, that means an increase by 9.9 %, calculated on responding countries that cover 78 % of EU population. At the same time, men killed by family members or intimate partners remained stable (2.2 per million men). The values are calculated on responding countries that cover 75 %-82 % of the EU population.

Figure 3: Intentional homicide victims by family members or intimate partners, male and female, 2015-2020
Source: Eurostat (crim_hom_soff)


609 600 assaults in the EU in 2020, a 5 % decrease after an upward trend for a number of years

In the EU, police-recorded assaults numbered around 609 600 in 2020, a decrease of 5 % compared to 642 700 in 2019. As shown in Figure 4, the numbers had been increasing since 2014. In 2020 serious assaults decreased in all countries except for Finland, the Netherlands and Croatia. In 2020 Belgium, Czechia, Spain, Italy, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Poland, Romania and Slovakia recorded their lowest value since 2010 for serious assaults. In 2020, in EU countries 136 serious assaults were recorded by police per 100 000 inhabitants, that is a decrease (- 8) from 144 in 2019.

As regards comparison among countries, in addition to serious assault, some national figures, due to national legislation or recording systems, include minor assault, serious assault leading to death (that should be included in intentional homicide) or sexual assault (which is classified separately).

Figure 4: Assault, 2010-2020
(number of police-recorded offences)
Source: Eurostat (crim_off_cat)


178 300 sexual violence crimes in the EU in 2020, a stop in a growing trend

In the EU, police-recorded sexual violence crimes numbered around 178 300 in 2020, that is relatively stable compared with the previous year. As shown in Figure 5, the trend had increased since 2016 and stopped in 2020. In 18 out of 27 countries, there was a decrease in the number of sexual violence offences in 2020 compared to 2019, while Germany, France, Romania, Finland and Sweden recorded their highest value in 2020. In 2020, in EU countries 40 sexual violence offences were recorded by police for every 100 000 inhabitants, that is the same value as in 2019.


Figure 5: Sexual violence, 2013-2020
(number of police-recorded offences)
Source: Eurostat (crim_off_cat)

Robberies down by 19 % in the EU between 2019 and 2020

Between 2019 and 2020, police-recorded robberies in the EU fell by 19 %, to around 182 300. Robberies have been decreasing since 2016 and had a sharp decline in 2020. This drop in figures, which has affected all the countries except for Cyprus, Luxembourg, Romania and Finland, might be the impact of COVID-19.

Figure 6: Robbery (police-recorded offences), 2016-2020
(number of offences)
Source: Eurostat (crim_off_cat)

Figure 7 shows police-recorded robberies relative to population size (number of offences per 100 000 inhabitants). In 2020, 41 robberies were recorded by police for every 100 000 inhabitants in EU countries. The rate has decreased (- 10) compared with 51 in 2019. In 2020, the highest rates in the EU were observed in Belgium (102, -38 compared with 2019), Spain (96, -45 less than 2019), and Portugal (87, -19 less than 2019), while the lowest rates were found in Hungary and Slovakia (both 6), followed by Cyprus, Slovenia and Estonia (9 each). Among the EFTA countries, Switzerland had the highest rate at 23 police-recorded robberies per 100 000 inhabitants (+1 compared to 2019).

Figure 7: Robbery, 2019-2020
(police-recorded offences per 100 000 inhabitants)
Source: Eurostat (crim_off_cat)

1 339 400 burglaries and 3 929 300 thefts in the EU in 2020, the lowest numbers since 2010

In the EU, police-recorded burglaries numbered around 1 339 400 in 2020. As shown in Figure 8, the number was generally steady until 2014 and has declined since then. The number of burglaries decreased by 13 % compared with the previous year and is 38 % smaller than in 2014. Comparing the EU countries that provided data in 2020, 19 countries out of 25 reported the lowest value for the period 2010-2020. In 21 countries out of 25 that provided the data for both years, there was a decrease in the number of burglaries from the previous year, while Poland, Slovakia, Sweden and Finland registered small increases (between 1 % and 4 %)[2]. In 2020, 300 burglaries were recorded by police for every 100 000 inhabitants in EU countries, a decrease (- 44) compared with 344 in 2019.

Police-recorded thefts numbered around 3 929 300 in 2020, with a 19 % decrease compared with 2019. As shown in Figure 8, there was an increase until 2014, followed by a decrease since then. This decrease was partly caused by an interruption in the French series in 2016, due to a change in classification to better comply with ICCS (International Classification of Crime for Statistical Purposes). In 2020, 22 countries out of 27 that provided data registered the lowest value for the period 2010-2020. In 25 countries out of 27 there was a decrease in the number of thefts compared with the previous year, while the values increased in Finland (10 %) and Estonia (1 %). In 2020, 878 thefts were recorded by the police for every 100 000 inhabitants in EU countries, a decrease (- 209) compared with 1 087 in 2019, which might be an impact of COVID-19 pandemic.

Figure 8: Burglary and theft, 2010-2020
(number of police-recorded offences)
Source: Eurostat (crim_off_cat)

Figure 9 shows the sum of burglaries and thefts in 2020 in relation to the population size (police-recorded offences per 100 000 inhabitants) and compared with the previous year. The highest figures for police-recorded offences in 2020 were observed in Sweden (3 797 per 100 000 inhabitants that means 1 per 26 people), Denmark (3 100 per 100 000 inhabitants, 1 per 32 people) and Finland (2 600 per 100 000 inhabitants, 1 per 38 people), followed by 10 countries with between 1 000 and 2 000 burglaries and thefts per 100 000 inhabitants (Luxembourg, Belgium, Austria, Germany, the Netherlands, France, Italy, Ireland, Slovenia and Malta), equivalent to 1 per 50-100 people. In 8 countries the rate was between 500 and 1 000 burglaries and thefts per 100 000 inhabitants, 1 every 100-200 persons, and in Lithuania, Slovakia and Cyprus the rate was below 400 per 100 000 inhabitants, 1 for over 250 people. The differences among countries are explained not only by the level of crime, but also by the different attitudes in reporting and recording crimes, especially minor ones.

Figure 9: Burglary and theft, 2019-2020
(police-recorded offences per 100 000 inhabitants)
Source: Eurostat (crim_off_cat)

447 700 vehicle thefts in the EU in 2020, a further 11% decrease in 2020

As a detail of thefts, Figures 10 and 11 show the thefts of motorized land vehicles (mostly cars). In the EU there were around 447 700 police-recorded car thefts in 2020, a 49 % reduction compared to 2008 and an 11 % reduction compared with the previous year. Note, however, that for France (2017-2020), Cyprus (2018-2020) and Hungary (2016-2020) due to missing figures the latest available year figure has been used. As shown in Figure 10, there has been a downward trend in the EU as a whole in the period 2008-2020. In 2020, 18 out of 24 responding countries recorded a decrease compared to the previous year. In contrast, Latvia and Finland had the largest increases in police-recorded car-thefts between 2019 and 2020.

Figure 10: Theft of a motorized land vehicle, 2008-2020
(number of police recorded offences)
Source: Eurostat (crim_off_cat)

For police-recorded car thefts per 100 000 inhabitants, in 2020 the figures were highest in Sweden (207), Italy (169), the Netherlands (155) and Greece (144), all decreasing from 2019 except for Sweden. The lowest figures in the EU were observed in Romania (8.7) Estonia (8.1) and Denmark (4.5). Among EFTA countries, Switzerland had the highest figure, 113 car thefts per 100 000 inhabitants.

Figure 11: Theft of a motorized land vehicle, 2019-2020
(police recorded offences per hundred thousand inhabitants)
Source: Eurostat (crim_off_cat)

1 090 700 unlawful acts involving controlled drugs or precursors in the EU in 2020, a 2 % drop after a peak in 2019

In the EU there were around 1 090 700 police-recorded unlawful acts involving controlled drugs [3] or precursors [4] in 2020, with a slight decrease of 2 % compared with the peak reached in 2019. Nineteen out of 27 countries had a decrease compared with the previous year, possibly due to Covid-19 restrictions, while Finland, Slovenia, Sweden, Luxembourg, Ireland, Malta, Spain and Germany recorded an increase. In 2020, Finland, Sweden, Germany and Spain recorded their highest value in the 2008-2020 period. This crime category includes unlawful handling, possession, purchase, use, trafficking, cultivation or production of controlled drugs or precursors for personal consumption and for non-personal consumption.

Figure 12: Unlawful acts involving controlled drugs or precursors, 2016-2020
(number of police recorded offences)
Source: Eurostat (crim_off_cat)

As shown in Figure 13, the number of drug-related crimes recorded by the police varies considerably across the EU, even relative to population size, due to different laws, recording practices and police attitude towards minor crimes that affect the cross-country comparisons. The values range from 1 offence recorded per 82 people in Sweden to 1 offence recorded per 3 607 people recorded in Slovakia. In 2020, the average value of EU is 1 drug-related offence recorded per 410 persons or 244 offences out of 100 000 inhabitants (5 less compared with 249 out of 100 000 inhabitants in 2019).

Figure 13: Unlawful acts involving controlled drugs or precursors, 2019 and 2020
(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 EU totals in this article were adjusted due to this. For instance if a 2020 figure was missing, the figure for 2019 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


Context

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, comparing crime statistics between countries is challenging due to different national criminal laws and different criminal justice systems.

However, 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 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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Notes

  1. To allow the comparison, the missing value of Finland is estimated with previous year figure
  2. In the EU total, the value for Estonia is missing, the Hungarian values for 2016-2020 are based on the latest available figures, due to missing data.
  3. Controlled drugs are narcotic drugs and psychotropic substance scheduled as such under the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, as amended, and the 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances
  4. Precursors are substances frequently used in the illicit manufacture of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances as defined in the 1988 Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances