Which country has the highest conviction rate

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Although Switzerland is considered to be one of the safest countries in the world, the population has the feeling that crime is increasing. What is it really like? A look at the statistics.

This content was published on January 11, 2021 - 1:15 PM

According to the Global Peace Index 2020 external link, Switzerland is the tenth safest country in the world. The ranking is led by Iceland, New Zealand and Portugal.

However, this does not seem to reassure the Swiss population: According to a survey by the Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW) in 2018, 61% of those surveyed believe that crime has increased in Switzerland over the past ten years. 68% of those questioned are of the opinion that foreigners are committing more and more crimes.

The same survey shows: 2.1% of respondents have been victims of physical harm, 6% have been victims of theft and 0.4% have been victims of armed robbery in the past twelve months.

The study by the Zurich researchers shows that concerns about crime are very little influenced by personal experience. Other factors come into play: Frequently watching private television channels increases the feeling of insecurity, while reading national newspapers reduces it, the study concluded. "The more right the respondents are, the more likely they are to believe that crime is a problem," says Dirk Baier, head of the survey.

In the Eurostat database, which shows the frequency of homicides per 100,000 inhabitants in 31 European countries, Switzerland and Norway come last. When comparing the number of robberies, Switzerland ranks 21st.

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According to data from the Swiss police, break-ins are one of the declining criminal offenses in recent years: in 2019 they fell by 6.3% compared to 2018. And the number of serious violent crimes is also stable overall External link. In 2019 there were 46 completed homicides (50 in 2018), 161 attempted homicides (149 in 2018), 637 grievous bodily harm (585 in 2018) and 679 rapes (626 in 2018). Overall, the crime figures in Switzerland show a downward trend when all offenses are taken into account.

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The following graphic shows the number of reports for three types of criminal offenses according to the residence status of the perpetrator: Swiss nationals residing in Switzerland, foreign nationals (25% of the resident population does not have a Swiss passport), persons in the asylum procedure and persons with a temporary residence permit or without a permit.

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The criminologist Marcelo Aebi, who is responsible for compiling the annual crime statistics of the Council of Europe, explains: "People without a residence permit have no access to the labor market. So there is a risk that they are working in the informal economy. It is not about them To justify the situation, rather to explain it: How can one survive without work and get money? "

The criminologist points out that drug trafficking is a classic example of this type of activity. "When we analyze the data, especially the over-representation of people from Africa, we see that they are mainly active in drug trafficking. We have to ask ourselves questions about this."

In the police statistics on drug offenses committed by people without a residence permit in Switzerland, people from West Africa (698) and the former Yugoslavia (538) are at the forefront. The overwhelming majority are men, as in all crime-related statistics.

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If one concentrates again on the legal resident population, both Swiss and foreign, the figures from the Federal Statistical Office (FSO) external link show a conviction rate by nationality per 1000 inhabitants:

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According to FSO data for 2019, of all people convicted of offenses under the Criminal Code in Switzerland, those from southern West Africa have the highest rate per 1000 nationals living in Switzerland with 52 convictions (30). It was followed by people from West Africa (21.7) with 279 convictions. In absolute numbers, however, the Swiss are in the majority with 13,842 convictions and a quota of 2.6.

Why are convictions classified by region rather than country?

Our readers asked us for more details about the BSF statistics and wanted to understand why people of African descent were classified by region rather than country.

According to the FSO, one of the most important measures to ensure data quality is to group those offenders with a high degree of uncertainty about their nationality by region. And among those with multiple criminal records under different nationalities, many are from Africa.

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Marcelo Aebi and the FSO themselves point out that statistics do not allow any conclusions to be drawn about the causes of crime. Because they cannot take into account the factors that can influence a person's behavior, such as the level of education, the economic situation, the social situation, the solidarity of the family or the community, the length of stay in the country and the reasons for immigration.

The criminologist emphasizes the importance of disseminating existing crime data. "In a democratic society, access to information must be guaranteed. But when we talk about over-representation, the subject quickly turns into an ideological debate," said Aebi. "As a scientist, I have to react to the data. The question of the overrepresentation of foreigners is a problem in Western Europe. And Switzerland is a special case, probably because of its geographical location and its purchasing power."