Sweden’s Rape Data – Part 1

By Robert Whiston FRSA  Dec 30th 2009

If a picture is worth a thousands words then let it be hoped that these tables and graphs will speak volumes.

These tables and graphs are taken from Swedish police records and relate to ‘reported rapes’ and by age of perpetrator committed during the 1990s. The reason for this is that in the near future another article will display tables of the current rape levels in Nordic countries and the reasons behind the increase.

Tables 523 and 524 are taken from official Swedish records. Tables 523 relates to Offences Reported to the Police which have here been truncated to show only sexual offences and rapes

From the mid 1990s to 2000 Swedish Statistics seems to prefer not to record or not publish data on sexual offences as such (Tables 523) but is happy to publish material specific to one aspect, i.e. rape.

Table 523. Offences reported to the police
Offence 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000
Sexual  offences  No data No data No data No data No data
Rape 1,608 1,692 1,965 2,104 2,024
Source:  Swedish Statistics http://www.scb.se/statistik/AA/OV0904/2000I02/A01S%C3%850201_24.pdf

 

However, if we look at Table 524 (below) we see that Sweden did indeed collect data on sexual offences for that era, but we have to come to it via the heading “Persons found guilty of criminal offences, by principal offence.” We can see that in 1996 of 1,608 reported rapes, 101 terminated with a conviction (about 6.2%). If we look at 2000 the number has risen to over 2,000 reported rapes (2,024), and there were 121 convictions, or 5.9%.

Table 524. Persons found guilty of criminal offences, by principal offence
Offence 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000
Sexual offences  576 567 650 652 675
Rape / Aggrav’d rape  101 115 129 98 121
Source:  Swedish Statistics http://www.scb.se/statistik/AA/OV0904/2000I02/A01S%C3%850201_24.pdf

This is in line with the alleged conviction rate based on reported rapes used by the Home Office as a measure of police success. Actually, the Home Office’s infamous ‘6%  conviction rate’ is the ‘attrition rate’ and the ‘true’ conviction rate in Britain is approx. 50%.

However, simply knowing the size of the problem is not enough. The numbers tell us very little except the risk element and numbers convicted.

Table 526 rescues us a little by giving us the age groups of offenders. Again this table has been truncated to focus on the need of this particular forum and it relates to the one year of 2000.

General speaking most criminal offences are committed by teenagers and those in their early twenties. The reason for this is generally accepted that they usually have not matured and/or have not yet established an ‘investment’ in society.

Oddly, for crimes of a sexual nature, the peak years for offending in not in the 15 – 17, or 18-20 age range but in the mature 30 – 39 and 40 – 49. Or at least that is the impression given by Table 526.  But look again.

Table 526. Persons found guilty of criminal offences, by principal offence and age (2000 only)
Age at time of sanction           
Offence  15–17  18–20  21–24  25–29  30–39  40–49  50–59  60 + 
Sexual offences  56 41 48 68 166 129 107 60
Rape / Aggravate rape  6 7 19 16 37 23 13
Source:  Swedish Statistics http://www.scb.se/statistik/AA/OV0904/2000I02/A01S%C3%850201_24.pdf

 

Were the teenage years to be ‘spread’ into decades (as for the 30 – 39 and 40 – 49 age groups), the picture is very different (see Table 526-A). Suddenly, in the 10 year age range (from 15 – 24) a similar number of rapes convictions are recorded.

Table 526-A. (redefined) Persons found guilty of criminal offences, by principal offence and age (2000 only)
Age at time of sanction           
Offence  15 – 24 25–29  30–39  40–49  50–59  60 + 
Sexual offences  145 68 166 129 107 60
Rape / Aggravate rape  32 16 37 23 13
Source:  Swedish Statistics http://www.scb.se/statistik/AA/OV0904/2000I02/A01S%C3%850201_24.pdf

 

The second highest conviction for both rape and sexual offences are in the age group 15 – 24.

This might be seen by some as ‘playing with numbers’ but it should be viewed as bringing standardisation and comparing like with like. The reader should take the view that to compare a 2 year age range with a 10 year one is likely to give rise to skewed results.

If we alter the parameters yet again – as in Table 526-B – another picture emerges. Now we see that the second largest offending group convicted are in the 18- 29 age band.

Table 526-B. (redefined) Persons found guilty of criminal offences, by principal offence and age (2000 only)
Age at time of sanction          
Offence 15–17 18- 29 30–39 40–49 50–59 60 +
Sexual offences 56 157 166 129 107 60
Rape / Aggravate rape 6 42 37 23 13
Source:  Swedish Statistics http://www.scb.se/statistik/AA/OV0904/2000I02/A01S%C3%850201_24.pdf

 

There then arises a small complication.

Statistics Sweden also published data on victimisation. Table 485 (below) displays the age range and percent of people subjected, in 2007, to violence or physical threat – this can include domestic violence and not solely rape.

As can be seen (below) those in the age range 16 – 24 are the group most likely to experience violence in some form (over 20%). Soon after that age bracket the incidence tumbles to 10%, i.e. by the age of 35 – 44. It bottoms-out at age 45 -54, and rises slightly in the subsequent age groupings.

But again there is something amiss.

Given that, offending is more or less age parity, meaning that both victim and perpetrator are of approximate ages (except for infants and pensioners),  

Just at the point when the above graphs (Table 526 etc) are telling us that sexual offending is most common the number of victims of violence is at its lowest.  In the age group 15- 24 offending at 145 does not correspond with the bar chart in Table 485 which shows most victims are in the 16 -24 age group (Table 526  v  Table 485). Has the pattern of offending depicted for 2007, at Table 485, altered from the era of 1996 (see Table 524 above) ?

 END of Part 1.

Go to Part 2.

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