Rape cases put on ice by police in favour of murder investigations

1:44 min

Reports of rape are going unsolved in Sweden as officers place a greater focus on cases of murder and attempted murder, reports Swedish Television.

Police say they are forced to deprioritize sexual offenses, even when there is a named suspect, due to a shortage of resource and manpower. Instead crimes such as murders are given top priority.

"It is difficult to explain why rape cases pile up, but the other crimes are considered even more serious. It is a no-win situation we have to choose from," Torgny Söderberg, head of the police's investigation unit in Stockholm, told Swedish Television.

There are several reasons why this happens, according to Söderberg. In some cases, investigators working on sexual offenses are redirected to work on other cases, and sometimes investigators must drop what they are doing to focus on crimes of murder or attempted murder.

One of the cases cited by SVT concerns a 12-year-old girl in Stenungsund who had been raped by an older man. Even though the police had the name of the suspect, the case was held on file for six weeks without action.

Another involves ten men suspected of a gang rape in Botkyrka south of Stockholm which happened last August but serious investigations only began this summer due to a lack of resources.

Last year, 20,300 sexual offenses were reported, an increase of 12 percent compared to 2015. The reported rape rates increased by 13 percent during the same period to 6,720, according to statistics published by the National Crime Prevention Council (brå).

Figures also show that reported rape cases rarely lead to prosecution. In 2014, 20 percent of cases went to trial, while in 2015 it was 14 percent and last year only 11 percent, according to Swedish Television.