Crime rate up 9% in Switzerland, mainly theft – urban areas worst hit

Lausanne’s increase highest: detective work paying off, but cop patrols to be stepped up

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Geneva’s crime rate fell in 2012, in contrast to that of the rest of the country – Zug excepted – but the rate remains higher than in the decade up to 2010

GENEVA, SWITZERLAND – Crime is on the rise in Switzerland, up 9 percent overall in 2012, with robberies showing an 11 percent increase nationwide.

Theft in urban areas has risen more rapidly than elsewhere.

Two other areas of crime that are significant are up, say police: foreigners with false or no papers, up 15 percent, and drugs, up 2 percent.

The total number of homicides and attempted homicides for the country was 229 last year, and cases of grave bodily injury, 110.

Behind the new figures for theft, drug use and illegal foreigners lie some sharp differences between urban and other areas, with cities hardest hit by the rise in crime. Swiss cantonal police offices are drawing attention this week to the country’s growing crime rate – Vaud on Monday 26 March, Ticino today – with local messages about specific causes and measures being taken.

Foreigners are significant part of the criminal population

The role of foreigners remains high: 18 percent of criminals charged in 2012 were foreigners without Swiss papers, while 7 percent were asylum-seekers and 75 percent were Swiss residents.

Crimes by non-residents are on the rise but the percent of foreigners who make up criminals with Swiss residence, while stable, remains high: 38 percent are foreigners with permanent residence or a one-year residence permit.

Lausanne to get more police on the streets

Vaud cantonal police said Monday that the crime rate rose by 18 percent in 2012, and the figure is 18 percent for theft, with a 21.7  percent increase in thefts with break-ins. Federal drug laws: up 17.6 percent. The canton was responsible for just over 100,000 of the 700,000 crimes registered by Swiss police in 2012, a disproportionate share.

The rate of crime per resident rose in Vaud from 98.7 per 1,000 in 2011 to 114,2, compared to a Swiss-wide rate of 78.9 per 1,000, up from 71.1 per 1,000 in 2011.

Swiss cantons harmonized their statistics covering crimes in 2008 and comparisons that were not possible in the past now exist for a five-year period. They are also comparable with European Union crime statistics, but these figures are less recent.

Lausanne is a key part of the problem in Vaud, “in line with the quasi-totality of major cities in the country,” Vaud police said at a press conference. The city had an increase in crime of 16.2 percent.

Street patrols are being stepped up 1 April and areas known for drug activity are being targeted.

Vaud points to 200 repeat offenders, from N Africa, uncovered by more detective work

Vaud lays much of the blame squarely on a small group, 200 repeat offenders from North African countries who are responsible for a large number of break-ins in particular, in-depth analyses have shown. The canton’s police inspectors, using new detection methods and approaches, identified nearly 5 percent more criminals in 2012, leading to more arrests.

Analyses of crimes solved, covering the past four years and with greater use of fingerprints and DNA in particular, show that the number of those arrested and found guilty who are North African has multiplied four-fold. “From 2011 to 2012 those arrested who are from North African countries rose by 42 percent and the number of crimes attributed to them rose by 65 percent.” This is a group that doesn’t hesitate to commit several crimes, say police, in particular breaking into cars, homes during the day and pickpocketing and purse-snatching in cities.

Geneva and Zug, the only cantons to see lower crime rates

Geneva and Zug both saw their crime rates fall, with Geneva’s down by 9 percent in 2012 compared to 2011. The canton attributes the drop to more intensive police patrol work to cut the number of thefts and violence, but it notes that the figures for 2012 nevertheless are higher than for the 2000 to 2010 decade and more work is needed to get the numbers lower.