IN NUMBERS: Which Swiss cities have the highest crime rates?

IN NUMBERS: Which Swiss cities have the highest crime rates?
Despite a spate of infractions, the crime rate in Switzerland remains relatively low. Photo by Nathalie OLOF-ORS / AFP
A new study based on police statistics showed that 5.4 violent crimes were committed per 1,000 inhabitants across Switzerland in 2020. What was the situation in major cities?

The figures released by the Federal Statistical Office on Monday show that thefts were by far the most common offenses.

Bern

In 2020, 9.4 violent crimes were committed per 1,000 inhabitants in the country’s capital. Of those 1.7 involved assaults, 1.4 threats, 1.8 bodily harm, 2.3 threats and violence against officials and 1.1 robbery.

Additionally, 40.1 thefts (excluding shoplifting) were reported per 1,000 inhabitants. Of those 5.6 were break-ins, 11.4 involved stolen bicycles and 2 vehicle thefts.

Zurich

Switzerland’s largest city registered 11.1 violent crimes per 1,000 inhabitants, 2.9 assaults, 1.6 threats, 2.1 bodily harm, 1 threat and violence against officials, and 0.8 robberies.

There were 35 thefts (excluding shoplifting) per 1,000 inhabitants. Of those 7.1 were break-ins, 7.2 stolen bicycles and 2.4 vehicles.

READ MORE: Safety in Switzerland: Which areas do Zurich residents avoid at night?

Basel

There were 13.1 violent crimes per 1,000 inhabitants in Basel, 4.3 of these were assaults, 2.9 threats, 1.8 bodily harm, 1.7 threats and violence against officials, and 0.6 robbery.

Apart from shoplifting, there were 42.9 thefts per 1,000 inhabitants. 6.1 of these were break-ins, 13.4 were stolen bicycles, and 3.7 vehicle thefts. 

Geneva

Some 10.4 violent crimes per 1,000 inhabitants were recorded in 2020. Of these, 1.3 of were were assaults, 2.5 threats, 3.3 physical harm, 0.4 threats and violence against officials, and 1.2 robberies.

Also registered were 51.8 thefts (excluding shoplifting), of which 8.2 were break-ins and 6.1 were stolen bicycles, and 3.6 vehicle thefts.

What about the rest of Switzerland?

In smaller cities, the number of burglaries fell slightly, statistics show, but there is no mention of whether this was due to periods of confinement.

For instance, in La Chaux-de-Fonds there was a decrease of 1.8 cases per 1,000 inhabitants, in Lausanne it was 1.6, in Yverdon-les-Bains 1.4, in St. Gallen and Zurich, 1.2.

While overall there was a slight increase — from 5.3 to 5.4 per 1,000 — in violent crimes throughout the country, in some towns the numbers dropped: in Yverdon-les-Bains (minus 2.3 cases per 1,000), Fribourg (-0.8), Lausanne and Bellinzona (-0.7) .  However, the federal government stated that the frequency of violent crimes may be overestimated in some cities. 

How do you make sense of these figures? 

The best way is to put them in a larger context. Globally, Switzerland consistently ranks among the world’s safest countries. 

For instance, it was number 1 in terms of safety in the US News and World Report ranking in 2020,  and ranked among the nations with lowest crime rates in other international studies as well.


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