Data extracted in October 2019
Planned article update: May 2020
The statistics presented in this article are based on official figures for police-recorded offences (criminal acts) in Europe 2008-2017. The results cover the European Union (EU), partially EFTA countries, candidate countries and potential candidate countries.
Robberies down by 24 % between 2011 and 2017
Between 2011 and 2017, police-recorded robberies in the EU fell by 24 %, from 522 000 to 396 000. By contrast, there was a 4 % increase between 2008 and 2011. Figure 1 shows the change from previous year in the number of police-recorded robberies. This highlights the fact that national crime trends can be rather different from the EU trend. Between 2011 and 2012, there was little change in robberies at EU level. However, at the same time some countries experienced a total increase of about 18 000 robberies, of which France, Italy, and Spain together had over 16 000. At the same time other countries together had a decrease of about 18 000, of which England and Wales (UK), Portugal, Belgium, and Poland together had over 14 000. Also between 2016 and 2017, the overall change was relatively small (4 000) compared to the total increases (18 000) and decreases (22 000).
Figure 2 shows police-recorded robberies relative to population size (number of offences per 100 000 inhabitants). In 2017, the highest numbers were observed in Belgium (167), France (150), Spain (144), England and Wales (UK) (132), and Portugal (115), while the lowest numbers of police-recorded robberies per 100 000 inhabitants were found in Romania (16), Estonia and Czechia (both 15), Cyprus (14), Slovenia (12), Slovakia and Hungary (both 9). Among the EFTA countries, Switzerland had the highest rate at 21 police-recorded robberies per 100 000 inhabitants.
5 200 homicides in the EU in 2017
Figure 3 shows intentional homicide relative to the population size (police-recorded offences per hundred thousand inhabitants). In 2017, the highest figures were observed in Latvia (5.6), Lithuania (4.0), Estonia (2.2) and Malta (2.0), and the lowest in Luxembourg (0.3), Czechia, Italy and Austria (all 0.6).
1.1 million assaults in the EU in 2017
Figure 4 shows that EU-wide, police-recorded assaults numbered just over 1.1 million in 2017. The lowest figure for EU total police-recorded assaults since 2010 was in 2013, at 916 000. The EU totals for 2016 and 2017 are partly based on previous figures (France and Austria not reported for 2017 and Hungary not reported for 2016-2017).
The number of assaults varies widely across the EU, even relative to population size. Most likely, the variation reflects not only crime occurrence, but also different laws and recording practices. For instance, some national figures include minor assault, lethal assault (manslaughter, murder, etc.), sexual assault (usually a separate classification), or threats, while most include only what is defined as serious assault.
697 000 cars are stolen in the EU on average 2015-2017
Police in the EU recorded on average 698 000 car thefts yearly over the period 2015-2017, a 29 % reduction compared with 2008-2010 (yearly average 983 000). Between 2008 and 2017, there have been downward trends in most European Member States. However, Ireland, Greece, Spain, Latvia, Malta, Romania, and England and Wales (UK) all had an increase between 2016 and 2017.
Relative to population size, the figures were highest in Luxembourg (328), Greece (269), Italy (257), Sweden (256), France (247) and Czechia (238), for police-recorded car thefts per 100 000 inhabitants (average 2015-2017). The lowest figures in the EU were observed in Slovakia and Estonia (both 31), Croatia (20), Romania (15) and Denmark (4). Among EFTA countries, Iceland had the highest figure, 138 car thefts per 100 000 inhabitants. The number of cars and other types of vehicles in each country may explain some of this variation.
Source data for tables and graphs
Data sources for statistics on crime and criminal justice systems include police and other law enforcement agencies, public prosecutors, law courts, prisons, relevant ministries, and statistical offices. These national authorities gather official figures, which are sent to Eurostat once a year, together with the United Nations Survey on Crime Trends and Operations of Criminal Justice Systems, by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.
This article presents results based on official figures for police-recorded offences (criminal acts) between 2008 and 2017. Earlier results are available: summary crime statistics for 1950–1992, and specified by crime for 1993–2007.
Eurostat updates tables when countries send new figures. That means archived web articles may contain results that are not consistent with the current web database.
To give the correct EU total, figures for all the countries are needed and missing data is one of the major quality issues for crime statistics at European level. For some crimes, so much data is missing that an EU total is not presented here. For some of the crimes that are presented, the EU total was adjusted due to sporadically missing figures. For instance if a 2017 figure was missing, the figure for 2016 was used from same country for the same crime. In some cases, a missing figure is replaced by an average of the year before and after. Another method to deal with missing data is to compare three-year averages for separate periods (for instance 2010-2012 and 2015-2017). The database tables contain the figures as reported (no adjustment).
A UN website presents worldwide homicide statistics.
Crime statistics are used by EU institutions, national authorities, media, politicians, organisations, and the public. No international regulation covers overall crime statistics. Each state establishes its criminal laws; define crimes, legal proceedings and justice reactions – and specifications for official crime statistics. As a consequence, national crime statistics is often not fully comparable between states.
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, in order to compare crime figures between countries. This is an ongoing development in European crime statistics. Information about the crime classification is available here.
Official crime statistics are provided by national authorities such as the police, prosecution, courts, and prisons. Of those, police figures give the broadest picture, as they include all recorded offences, whether or not they led to prosecution. Still, the statistics do not measure the total occurrence of crime, but reflect how the authorities register and handle cases. Simply put, the total occurrence would be the reported plus the unreported, minus the incorrectly reported. It is fair to assume that some crimes are well reported when a police record is required to support an insurance claim, such as car theft and burglary.
- Excluding data for the Netherlands.
- Car means here a motorised land vehicle, including motorcycles, passenger cars, buses, coaches, lorries, trucks, bulldozers, etc.
- However, for particular crimes there are EU directives or United Nations (UN) conventions.