Fewer offences solved in the year of reform

RobberyRobbery.Photo: pixabay.com

Fewer offences solved in the year of reform, 2017

The Norwegian police and prosecution authorities completed the investigation of 288,800 offences in 2017. This is 9.6 per cent fewer than in the record low year of 2016, and the drop in the number of solved offences and corresponding charges against perpetrators is even greater.


All of the 12 new police districts (see map) completed the investigation of fewer offences in 2017 than the year before, according to the statistics on offences investigated. The decline was especially prevalent among the police districts in the eastern and southern parts of Norway.

For the country as a whole, 2017 saw major decreases in most of the new groups of offences (see text box), and there was more than a 10 per cent drop in the categories drug and alcohol offences, traffic offences and property theft, compared to the year before. Furthermore, there were 5 per cent fewer offences investigated in the category violence and maltreatment, despite the concurrent increase in violence and maltreatment reported to the police. However, the number of completed investigations of sexual offences represented a 16 per cent increase from the year before.

The low number of investigations completed by the Norwegian police in 2017 was partly due to the record low number of offences reported to the police. Compared to the year before, the 2017 reduction in offences investigated is far greater than the reduction in offences reported to the police, particularly for solved offences and for offences where the perpetrator was committed for trial in the courts.

Fewer offences solved in the south-eastern police districts

In total, the 146,000 solved offences in 2017 are as much as 20,000 fewer than in 2016 and are the lowest since the mid-1990s. When taking into account the number of registered offences and the population, South-East, East and Oslo are the country’s biggest police districts. Combined, these districts had 14,400 fewer solved offences in 2017 than in the year before.

Among solved offences, 58,700 ended up in a court trial. This is just over 9,900 – or 14 per cent – fewer than in 2016. The number of completed investigations transferred to the courts for trial was far fewer than in any of the previous 20 years, as shown in figure 1. Furthermore, the 56,700 offences settled with a ticket fine were also significantly fewer than in all previous years, and 13 per cent fewer than in 2016.

Few thefts are solved

In total, 142 700 offences were unsolved in 2017, which is 10,500 fewer than the year before. Among the unsolved offences, 69,500 were property thefts, which is an 11 per cent drop from 2016. The 18,400 solved thefts were 12 per cent fewer than the year before, and the figure for 2017 is the lowest since the first half of the 1980s.

Lower clear-up rate

Significant parts of the increase in the total clear-up rate in the period 2012-2016 can be attributed to the decline in reported thefts and in particular the types where prosecution is frequently dropped due to insufficient information about the offender. In 2017, however, the total clear-up rate of 50.6 per cent was significantly lower than in the previous two years.

Last year’s decline partly stems from a major decrease in the number of reported drug and alcohol and traffic offences. These are groups of offences usually reported by the police themselves, and which therefore have a high clear-up rate. However, there was a decline in the clear-up rate for most other groups of offences, especially for public order and integrity violations and violence and maltreatment.

Fewer persons charged with violence and maltreatment – also in close relations

Following the changes in penal legislation and the initial registrations of maltreatment in close relations in 2006, the annual number of reported and investigated cases of this type of violence has increased in each subsequent year. However, despite a continued increase in the number of reported cases and registered victims in 2017, the number of such offences investigated by the police fell for the first time.

In 2017, a total of 2,714 investigations of maltreatment in close relations were completed, of which 659 were considered to be solved and 535 were transferred for a court trial. This resulted in 424 persons being charged with maltreatment in close relations as the principal offence. For this type of violent offence, 2017 saw a lower clear-up rate and fewer cases solved compared to 2016, as well as a corresponding decrease in the number of charges, court trials and persons charged.

Corresponding trends were seen for threats, assaults and bodily harm. All of these types of offences had a significantly lower clear-up rate compared to the year before. From the principal offence, these types of violence combined saw a 10 per cent drop in solved offences, and 9 per cent fewer persons charged.

More sexual offences against children were solved

In 2017, 1,774 different persons were charged with a total of 3,134 charges for sexual offences, which is 7 and 15 per cent more than the year before respectively.

In 2017, the police registered far more reports of sexual offences related to children and adolescents under 18 years of age. For sexual offences, 2017 saw more investigations completed and solved than in all previous years.

These developments led to a total of 1,218 charges for sexual acts and sexual intercourse with children under 16 years, which is an increase of as much as 33 per cent from the year before. From the principal offence, there was a 10 per cent increase in persons charged for these types of sexual offences against children. This increase is more moderate due to a larger share of sexual offenders in 2017 being caught for more than one offence.

A decrease in all age groups except offenders under 18

As a result of the decrease in the total number of solved offences, 2017 also saw fewer charges and charged persons, and the investigations resulted in 149 600 charges against 73,800 different persons. This is almost 12 per cent fewer charges and 8 per cent fewer persons charged than in 2016, and many of the decreasing trends from preceding years were therefore further reinforced.

Among the adult population, there was a big decrease in persons charged in all age groups, as shown in figure 2. For the age group 18-39 years, this means the clear trend of ten years continued in 2017. In total, 41,700 charged persons were in this age group, which is 22 per cent fewer than in 2007. However, there were fewer charged persons in the older age groups, combined with more charged persons in the youngest age groups, both of which represented a break from the development of recent years.

Shoplifting big part of the increase among youths

During the ten-year period 2007-2016, the number of persons charged in the age group 5-14 year was more than halved. In 2017, however, the 3,824 charges against the 2,740 different persons in this age group represents a 41 and 36 per cent increase from 2016 respectively.

The offences for which the youngest offenders are charged differ significantly from those of the older offenders. For example, the charges for theft from a shop make up as much as one-third of all charges in the age group 5-14 years, and one-fifth of all charges among offenders aged 15-17 years. Last year’s increase in children and adolescents caught for theft from shops thus corresponds to more than the entire increase in charges and persons charged within this age group, as well as 40 per cent of the increase in the age group 5-14 years.

In absolute numbers, the largest increases in charged persons under 15 years were seen in Akershus, Rogaland and Hordaland counties. With 6 persons charged per 1,000 population, Rogaland had the second largest share of offenders aged 5-14 years after Oslo, where 7 persons were charged per 1,000 population.

Police Districts Norwat

The 12 police districts of Norway. Graphics: Politiet


© Statistics Norway / #Norway Today, Penned by Reid Jone Stene / Siri Fjærtoft Fossanger