What is the truth about crime and immigration in Sweden?

In quantitative terms, the NTU data on sexual assault show a rising victimization level from the first survey in 2005 to the last reported year, 2015. The legal definition of rape in Sweden, suddenly a hot topic in U.S. political discourse, is irrelevant here. These numbers are from a self-reported survey of sexual-crime victimization with the same definition over time. The number of sexual crimes reported to the police has also increased in recent decades, although here crime definitions and reporting rates become factors and make comparisons over time and with other countries difficult. There is no source pointing to a decrease in sexual crime over the long term in Sweden, and the increase in sexual assaults in official sources was grudgingly acknowledged by the Swedish media prior to Donald Trump’s comments.

Finally, it is worth emphasizing that the focus on overall crime statistics avoids the actual question being discussed: the situation in immigrant-dominated areas with low socioeconomic status. Around 95 percent of the Swedish population lives outside these areas. Hence, it takes a lot for crime trends in the “ghettoes” of Sweden to dominate overall trends. Four fifths of the population in Sweden are not immigrants. The overall crime trend and the effect of immigration on crime are therefore two different topics.

To isolate the effect of immigration on crime, we need data on crimes committed by immigrants. Obtaining this type of data is easy in the United States or Denmark, but not in Sweden. The last time there was an official report breaking down crime statistics by immigrant status and origin was in 2005, for the years 1997 to 2001. These statistics confirmed that immigrants were significantly overrepresented amongst offenders, in particular in committing violent crimes. The foreign born were four times more likely to be suspects in homicide cases than those with Swedish origin, and 4.5 times more likely to be suspects in rape cases.