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Crime in Switzerland is combated mainly by cantonal police. The Federal Office of Police investigates organised crime, money laundering and terrorism.

Crime statistics

In Switzerland, the police registered a total of 526,066 offenses under the Criminal Code in 2014 (-9% compared with previous year), of which were 186,708 or 35.5% cases of thefts (excluding vehicles, -14%), and 47,762 or 9% cases of thefts of vehicles (including bicycles, +8%), 41 killings (-28%) and 132 attempted murders (-13%). There were 556 cases of rape (-3%). Offenses against the Narcotics Act decreased by 16.8% to 80,986. Offenses against the Federal Act on Foreign Nationals decreased by 4.7% to a total of 39,544.[1]

In 2014, 110,124 adults were convicted, of which 55,240 (50%) were convicted according to traffic regulation offences, 6,540 (+1.6%) for trafficking in narcotic substances, and 17,882 (-7.2%) for offenses against the Federal Act on Foreign Nationals.[2] 83,014 or 83.4% of adult convicted people are male, and 42,289 or 42.5% of them Swiss citizens.[3] In the same year, 11,484 minors (78% of them male, 68% of them of Swiss nationality, 64.2% aged either 16 or 17) were convicted.[3]

Convictions for infliction of bodily harm have steadily increased throughout the 1990s and 2000s, with 23 convictions for serious injury and 831 for light injury in 1990 as opposed to 78 and 2,342, respectively, in 2005. Convictions for rape have also slightly increased, fluctuating between 61 and 100 cases per year in the period 1985 to 1995, but between 100 and 113 cases in the period 2000 to 2005. Consistent with these trends, convictions for threats or violence directed against officials has consistently risen in the same period, from 348 in 1990 to 891 in 2003.[4][5]

The number of convicted persons is given in the following tables.[6] Each class of crime references the relevant section of the Strafgesetzbuch (Criminal Code, abbreviated as StGB in German), or Betäubungsmittelgesetz (abbr. BetmG, Narcotics Act), or the Strassenverkehrsgesetz (abbr. SVG, Swiss Traffic Regulations).

The historic adult conviction rates are given in the following chart:[6]

The age of the individuals at the time of their convictions is given in this chart:[6]


At the end of 2006, 5,888 people were interned in Swiss prisons, one third of them on remand, 31% of them Swiss citizens, 69% resident foreigners or illegal immigrants; excluding remand: 36% Swiss or 32 in 100,000, 64% foreigners or 160 in 100,000.

Crime by type

Money laundering is a criminal offence punishable by the criminal authorities (Art. 305bis of the Swiss Criminal Code).[7] According to the Money Laundering Reporting Office Switzerland in 2017, official "suspicious activity reports" reached nearly 4,700 (worth $16.2 billion) from 2,909 reported cases in 2016.[8] In 1989, the Swiss Justice Minister had to step down, following allegation of money laundering by her husband. This was the largest case of drug related money laundering to become public.[9]

Regulation of money laundering in Switzerland includes the Federal Act on Combating Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing in the Financial Sector (Anti-Money Laundering Act, AMLA) which requires financial intermediaries such as investment banks or insurance companies to comply with due diligence and disclosure requirements.[7]

According to the Swiss Federal Prosecutor's office and media, in the 1990s and early 2000s Al Qaeda members had accounts at Swiss banks, including UBS.[10][11]

As of 2017 drug use was the most common reason why people aged 10–18 were reported by police (being filed, being fined, or reported to justice), however dealing has been diminished since 2010.[12]

According to Addiction Panorama, “Illegal substances can be found in cities quickly and relatively easily”.[13]

According to a recent study, 5 Swiss cities (St Gallen, Bern, Zurich, Basel and Geneva) were listed among top 10 European cities for cocaine use.[14][15]

Swiss authorities, including CHUV, estimate that dealers and traffickers make profits of $28.1-29.1 million a year in Vaud alone.[16][17]

Analysis of Swiss police records suggests that participants in medical drug rehabilitation programs tend to reduce cocaine, cannabis and heroin use,[18] and the need to commit other crimes to buy their drugs, such as shoplifting, burglary or car theft.[19][20]

In 2016, there were 187 attempted and 45 completed homicides, for a homicide rate of 0.50 per 100,000 population. Of the 232 cases, 123 were committed with bladed weapons, 47 with firearms and 30 unarmed. Out of 217 identified suspects, 187 were male and 30 female; 115 (53%) were foreigners (62 foreigners with permanent residence, and 63 foreigners without permanent residence, including asylum seekers) and 102 (47%) were Swiss citizens. 19 cases (42%) of completed and 52 cases (28%) of attempted homicide were classed as domestic violence.[1]

In 2016, 14,033 cybercrime cases were reported to police in Switzerland, compared to 11,575 in 2015 and 5,330 in 2011.[21] Swiss media reported that over three million Swiss email usernames and associated padswords are available on the net since 2019. These include login details of government ministers, government employees and the military.[22]

The Swiss legal definition of rape is "an assault during vaginal sexual intercourse with a woman", thus exempting men from the status of rape victims. [23]

Cases of sexual abuse reported in the Catholic church rose from 9 cases in 2012 to 65 in 2017 (63% of victims were 16 or younger and 27% were 12 or younger).[24] [25]

In Switzerland public discrimination or invoking to rancor against persons or a group of people because of their race, ethnicity, is getting penalized with a term of imprisonment until 3 years or a mulct. In 1934, the authorities of the Basel-Stadt canton criminalized anti-Jewish hate speech, e.g., the accusation of ritual murders, mostly in reaction against a pro-Nazi antisemitic group and newspaper, the Volksbund.[26]

Council of Europe's Group of State Against Corruption (GRECO) in its evaluation report noted that specificities of Switzerland's institutions which enjoy considerable public confidence. It underlines, however, that the very organisation of the system allows subtle pressure to be exerted on politicians and the judiciary.[27]

Transparency International's 2017 Corruption Perception Index ranks Switzerland as the 5th least corrupt state out of 180 countries.[28]

In 2018 the Tax Justice Network ranked Switzerland's banking sector as the "most corrupt" in the world due to a large offshore banking industry and very strict secrecy laws. The ranking attempts to measure how much assistance the country's legal systems provide to money laundering, and to protecting corruptly obtained wealth.[29][30]

Crime dynamics

The crime rate among resident foreigners ("immigrant criminality") is significantly higher (by a factor 3.7 counting convictions under criminal law in 2003).[31] In 1997, there were for the first time more foreigners than Swiss among the convicts under criminal law (out of a fraction of 20.6% of the total population at the time). In 1999, the Federal Department of Justice and Police ordered a study regarding delinquency and nationality (Arbeitsgruppe "Ausländerkriminalität"), which in its final report (2001) found that a conviction rate under criminal law about 12 times higher among asylum seekers (4%), while the conviction rate among other resident foreigners was about twice as high (0.6%) compared to Swiss citizens (0.3%).[32]

In 2010 for the first time was a statistic published which listed delinquency by nationality (based on 2009 data). To avoid distortions due to demographic structure, only the male population aged between 18 and 34 was considered for each group. From this study it became clear that crime rate is highly correlated on the country of origin of the various migrant groups. Thus, immigrants from Germany, France and Austria had a significantly lower crime rate than Swiss citizens (60% to 80%), while immigrants from Angola, Nigeria and Algeria had a crime rate of above 600% of that of Swiss population. In between these extremes were immigrants from Former Yugoslavia, with crime rates of between 210% and 300% of the Swiss value.[34]

The full report listed 24 nationalities plus the crime rate of Swiss citizens (fixed at 100%), and the average value of all foreign citizens combined, at 160%. Commentators expressed surprise[35] at the clear geographical structure of the list, giving, in decreasing order, Africa, the Middle East and the Balkans, Southern Europe and Western and Central Europe. The Federal Statistics Office published the study with the caveat that the sizes of the groups under comparison vary considerably. For example, the net impact of a crime rate increased by 530% among 500 Angolans will still be five times smaller than a crime rate increased by 30% among 46'000 Portuguese. The country is a target for foreign criminals on account of its reputation as an affluent nation. According to British criminal Colin Blaney in his autobiography 'Undesirables', groups of English thieves have frequently targeted the nation in the past due to the fact its citizens are relatively wealthy and the fact that they are naïve about crime due to the country's low crime rate.[36]

On 28 November 2010, 53% of voters approved a new, tougher deportation law. This law, proposed by the Swiss People's Party, called for the automatic expulsion of non-Swiss offenders convicted of a number of crimes, including murder, breaking and entry and even welfare fraud. As the proposal makes deportation mandatory, it denies judges any judicial discretion over deportation. An alternative proposal, that included case by case reviews and integration measures, was rejected by 54% of voters.[39]

See also

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