Brå: Women's heightened feelings of insecurity 'alarming'

3:39 min

Swedes feel less safe in their own neighbourhoods, according to a fear of crime survey, with almost a third of women said to be scared of going out late at night.

"It is a frightening figure," says Erik Wennerström, Director General of the Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention (Brå) which on Tuesday published its annual survey of people's attitudes and experiences regarding fear of crime, victimization and public confidence in the Swedish justice system.

The survey conducted last spring indicated that 31 percent of women said they feel somewhat or very unsafe when they go out in their own residual area in the evenings. This is an increase by 25 percent compared to 2015, the largest rise since records began in 2006. Twelve percent of women say that they feel so unsafe they choose not to go out at all at night.

In total, 19 percent of 16 to 79 year-olds questioned said that they feel unsafe in their neighbourhood at night. That is an increase of four percentage points since 2015.

The feeling of insecurity is biggest among young women and old women.

Emelie Hambrook, a researcher at Brå, tells Radio Sweden that it is too soon to see if this is part of a trend.

"We cannot tell you why more people are feeling unsafe. This survey shows the numbers and figures so that other organisations and authorities can know where to target their resources. It is too soon to say whether the increase is part of a trend because the last few years have been stable."

The proportion of women who are victims of sexual offenses has increased over the past three years from 1.4 percent to 3 percent of the female population.

Confidence in the Swedish legal system has gone down by three percentage points since the last survey in 2015. In terms of police confidence, the numbers have gone down by four percentage points over the same period.

Responding to the survey, Home Affairs minister Anders Ygeman told news agency TT that the development of people afraid to go out at night is "serious".

"Our goal is of course to increase women's security and this trend is in the opposite direction, which means that we need to take further action," he said.