Trends in Police-Recorded Offences at the Beginning of the Twenty-First Century in Europe

Published 21.3.2018

The collection and analysis of crime statistics is one of HEUNI’s key areas of focus. A new article by Dr Markku Heiskanen, the former senior researcher at HEUNI, written in collaboration with Professor Beata Gruszczynska (University of Warsaw) provides an overview of European crime trends in 2000-2011, based on an analysis of the average annual change in homicide, assault, rape, burglary, car theft, robbery, and drug offenses. This study explores the trends in police-recorded crimes in Europe and in individual countries. The offender characteristics such as gender and the age of perpetrators are also considered.

The data is derived from the European Sourcebook of Crime and Criminal Justice Statistics (ESB), which collects data on the different levels of the criminal justice process all over Europe: police statistics, prosecution statistics, conviction statistics, prison statistics, and information on national victimization surveys.

The article shows that homicide has decreased in all European countries, and the decrease has been more rapid in those countries with a high homicide rate. However, the development of all violent crime seems contradictory, because assault and rape rates have increased in many countries. Property crimes, such as robbery, burglary and car theft, have decreased, but drug crimes show an increase. Overall, the findings suggest that property is currently better secured now than at the

beginning of the century, but the situation in respect of violent crimes (excluding homicide) and drug crimes has not improved.

The authors highlight the importance of systematic victimization surveys by European countries to estimate both traditional and new crimes. They suggest that advanced victimization surveys would also have an impact on the improvement of official crime statistics.

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