Talking Point: Crime in Sweden is out of control

Claim: Conservative media is claiming that crime in Sweden is out of control due to immigrants.

Rank: FalseIn a speech by Donald Trump on February 18, 2007, Trump referred to a terrorist incident in Sweden the night before as a defense for his travel ban executive order.  Since then, Trump and his administration has clarified the remark by saying that he was referencing a news segment on Fox News that reported an uptick in crime and not a specific event.  Conservative media has added that Sweden is seeing dramatic increases in crime especially in the sexual assault category.

In 2015, Sweden took in over 150,000 asylum seekers.  Of course, there have been challenges due to this influx of immigrants.  The number of immigrants put Sweden at the top of the list in terms of rate of immigration due to the nation’s small population.  Sweden has found it necessary to limit future immigrants until the situation stabilizes.  Their main struggle is the integration of the immigrants.  There is also a problem with unemployment among the immigrants and they have been a burden on Sweden’s welfare system.

Given the situation, it would not be unexpected to see an increase in crime.  The question is whether or not the increase has been dramatic or out of control.

The main evidence presented by the conservative media is the dramatic upturn of sexual assault which has been claimed to have increased by 70%.  In the Fox News Segment to which Trump referred in his speech, a couple Swedish police officers were interviewed that backed the claim.  Finally, the conservative media has noted that Sweden either does not collect crime statistics of immigrants or they refuse to release it.

It should be noted that on February 20, 2017, there was a riot in a predominately immigrant neighborhood in Rinkeby.  There were similar riots in Sweden in 2010 and 2013.

Many news agencies who have looked into the claims by the conservative media, conclude that the claims are exaggerated.  They have noted that a part of the increase in sexual assault cases can be attributed to legislation passed in 2005 to include rapes that occur when the victim is intoxicated or asleep.  Plus, Sweden reports rape differently than most countries.  For example, if a woman reports that she was raped by her husband, they will record multiple rapes rather than just once.

The police officers that were interviewed by the Fox News program have stated that they were misled about the nature of the interview and that their comments were taken out of context.  Even if this was not the case, this evidence (along with the Facebook rant of a Swedish police officer) is anecdotal and it should be considered in that light.

Despite the challenges faced by Sweden and the high concern of immigration by Swedes, the general opinion is that Sweden is not having a massive crime wave.  While there has been an increase in crime, it is not one that would be expected with the number of immigrants that have arrived.  Given the evidence, it is most likely that the claim is false.

Update 2/28/2017: It has been reported that Nils Bildt, Swedish Defense and National Security Adviser, who was a guest on Bill O’Reilly’s program on Fox News might not have who he claimed to be .Officials in Sweden have reported that they do not know who was Bildt and that they have no record of him working for the government or the armed forces.  On Fox News, Nils Bildt backed the administration’s assertion that asylum seekers were responsible for an increase in violent crimes.  Fox News has admitted that criticism of their handling of the segment is valid.

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