Crime For Members

How safe is Switzerland compared to the rest of Europe?

Helena Bachmann
Helena Bachmann - [email protected]
How safe is Switzerland compared to the rest of Europe?
No worries, shooting is a wholesome (and non-dangerous) sports activity in Switzerland. Image by dsjones from Pixabay

Switzerland has a reputation as one of the safest countries in Europe. But can you really feel secure here?


When it comes to personal safety in Switzerland, there is good news, but if you are a perfectionist, you may find the country lacking in this regard.

How so?

According to the World Population Review, Switzerland is among top 10 safest nations in Europe: landing in eighth place — a better ranking than its neighbours, except for Austria, which is in the fourth spot.

That’s a pretty good place, except for perfectionists who prefer to think of Switzerland as leading the world in everything (except perhaps size). But they should be relieved to know that it did better than France, which finds itself in the 34th position.

As the World Population Review explains, Switzerland has comparatively low crime rates. “People feel safe walking and staying outside, even in isolated areas, at any time of the day or night. The chances of terrorist incidents are also low."

Different data

This is one set of findings.

Another, from the Better Life Index released by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), indicates that “in Switzerland, 86 percent of people say  they feel safe walking alone at night, more than the OECD average of 74 percent".

Further, “the homicide rate (the number of murders per 100,000 inhabitants) is a more reliable measure of a country's safety level because, unlike other crimes, murders are usually always reported to the police. According to the latest OECD data, Switzerland's homicide rate is 0.3, much lower than the OECD average of 2.6, and one of the lowest in the OECD."

This is probably more indicative, as it describes the situation better than just rankings.

Also, OECD members include countries outside Europe as well, so this gives a more global perspective on the safety situation. 

Walking at night is perfectly safe. Image by Daniel Nebreda from Pixabay


Why is Switzerland considered so safe?

This is a paradox of sorts, as firearms are as ubiquitous here as chocolate.

There are an estimated 2.3 million guns in a country of nearly 8.9 million people, and yet crime rate is low. 

READ ALSO: Understanding Switzerland's obsession with guns 

Yet despite the high number of weapons in circulation, Switzerland is still very safe.

Why is this?

It can be explained, at least in part, by Swiss culture and mentality.

Generally speaking, people here are very safety-conscious and non-confrontational.

For them, firearms are to be used for defence purposes only (such as to protect their country from invaders), or for sports shooting, which is a popular activity in Switzerland. Furthermore, for the Swiss, owning a gun comes with a sense of responsibility toward their own, as well as other people’s, safety.


What crimes are most common in Switzerland?

According to police statistics, burglaries are not only the most common offences in the country, but in 2022 their number has increased by more than 14 percent in comparison to the previous year.

Incidences of vehicle thefts is also high, though fewer were reported in 2022 than a decade earlier.

Which Swiss regions are safest (and least safe)?

Both in terms of violent crime and burglaries, Basel-City holds the unenviable record as Switzerland’s most dangerous canton.

In the category of violent crime, Basel registered 13.9 incidences for 1,000 residents.

As a comparison, Switzerland’s two other cantons with large cities — Geneva and Zurich — reported 7.2 and 6.8 offences per 1,000, respectively, in this category.

Interestingly though, Basel-Country, which surrounds Basel-City, has a low rate of only 3 cases in 1,000.

The safest cantons, on the other hand, are Schwyz and Uri, with a low score of 2.4 violent crimes per population of 1,000.

When it comes to robberies, a distant second to Basel’s 54.8 incidents per 1,000 residents score is Geneva (37.9), Solothurn (23.1), and Neuchâtel (22). In Zurich, that number is 19.5.

As to where where your possessions are safest, Nidwald has fewest thefts in Switzerland (5.7 per 1,000 residents), followed — as in cases of violent infractions — by Uri (5.9) and Schwyz (6).

Before you panic...

Reading about these statistics probably doesn’t fill you with confidence regarding your personal security.

But you should not worry — not only do these figures show that crime rate is limited in scope, but the above-mentioned statistics from the World Population Review and OECD, indicate that, in comparison with other countries, Switzerland is among the least risky nations in the world, both in terms of personal safety and overall crime rates.


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