How are we to combat crime with a severe impact on society in the future? Some types of crime involve high socio-economic costs and may also have a negative impact on our democratic system in the long run. Some examples of key values that may suffer or that we may lose as a result of crime include security, trust, freedom, fair competition and the rule of law. The project timeframe is 2022–2024.


Emelie Lekebjer, Project Manager, +46 737 53 32 07,

Louise Lorentzon, Research Director, +46 707 91 21 72,

Mikael Witterblad, Head of Research Programme,

Crime may result in significant socio-economic costs 

According to the Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention, almost half the Swedish population is currently very concerned regarding crime in society. Crime and perceived insecurity affect the entire society, even though the risk of being exposed to crime is unevenly distributed and affects different areas and individuals to varying degrees.  

Explosions, car fires, gun violence, open drug trafficking and fatal violence in the public sphere are visible crimes receiving a great deal of attention in the media and in current debates. Crime may have an impact on aspects such as where people want to settle as well as their willingness to testify and move freely in society or engage in business ventures in areas considered insecure. Threats and less visible forms of violence can also affect people’s security and freedom.

Threats, blackmail and violence against public officials and elected representatives may in the long-term lead to a fear of making certain decisions or reduce people’s willingness to enter elections or participate in the public debate. Money laundering and crimes directed at various parts of the welfare system may in the long run affect citizens’ trust in society and its institutions.  

Crimes such as fraud, theft and blackmail may play a role in the ability of companies to operate based on fair competition.  

All of society is needed to reduce crime 

Combating crime and ensuring security for citizens is a fundamental task for the public sector. Government agencies both within and outside the judicial system are needed in the fight against crime, and they have various tools at their disposal in these efforts.  

Civil society and the business sector, parts of society not always associated with law enforcement and the judiciary, also play an important role in preventing and combating crime. This not only applies to preventive measures before law enforcement intervenes, but also to efforts in terms of assisting the judiciary in combating crime and relapses into criminal behavior. The same applies to efforts to reintegrate former convicts into society after having served their sentence.   

Effective legislation and collaborations play a key role in the fight against crime, both at the local and international level. Here, different organizational conditions and laws relating to privacy and the sharing of information may also play a role.  

Knowledge as to which measures are effective  

Crime changes simultaneously with society. These changes require new knowledge and identifying new patterns. 

This project is launched by SNS to contribute with new knowledge and a basis for discussions and solutions. The project aims to fill gaps in knowledge by publishing surveys and analyses on trends in crime and reports on the effects of initiatives aimed at reducing or combating different types of crime, as well as by compiling existing Swedish and international research in this field in easily accessible overviews. 

There is also a growing research literature involving empirical impact analyses of measures aimed at preventing, combating and reducing relapses into criminal behavior. This project will involve researchers from different disciplines while also presenting different perspectives. Research and lessons from other countries will also be presented. 

upcoming seminars 

Completed seminars

IIES/SNS International Policy Talks: Jens Ludwig – Can Behavioral Science Reduce Crime? 2024.03.07

The EU’s fight against organized crime 2023.04.24

Social Policies as Crime Control 2022.11.22

Gun violence – what do we know and what to do? 2022.08.19


SNS Research Brief 100. Using Behavioral Science to Reduce Crime and School Dropout 2024.03.07

What is the effect of police interventions and surveillance cameras on crime? 2024.02.26

Criminal Investigators’ Access to Existing Information in Electronic Communication Devices 2023.11.20

Does Placing Children in Out-of-Home Care Affect Their Future Criminality? 2023.11.20

The Vulnerable State: A Research Review on How Organized Crime Influences the State and Municipalities 2023.11.07

Defections from Criminal Groups in the Largest Cities in Sweden: Analyzing Municipal Exit Programs 2023.10.03

The Importance of Neighborhoods for Crime and Children’s Life Outcomes 2023.09.12

Social Policies as Crime Control 2022.11.22

ongoing research

The effects of juvenile detention centers and reduced sentencing for juveniles

Similar to many other countries, Sweden applies a system of reduced sentencing for juveniles. This report studies the impact of this reduced sentencing on crime.

The report also presents research on juvenile detention centers. In the 1930s, Swedish juveniles were no longer sent to prison together with adults, instead being incarcerated in specific juvenile detention centers. How did this affect crime in Sweden?

Author: Mikael Priks, professor of economics at Stockholm University.

To be published: autumn 2024

The business sector and organized crime – how are companies affected?

Criminal companies are able to operate without taking legislation into account and can thus offer lower prices and attain a better position when competing with legitimate companies. What are the costs of organized crime for companies and how are we to address this problem?

Author: Carina Gunnarson, associate professor of political science and researcher at the Swedish Defence Research Agency (FOI) and the Institute for Futures Studies (IFFS).

To be published: fall 2024

What we know regarding the determinants of recidivism

A large share of crime is committed by repeat offenders. How can we reduce recidivism? This report highlights research in the field and informs us of what we know and do not know regarding the determinants of recidivism.

 Author: Randi Hjalmarsson, professor of economics at the University of Gothenburg

To be published: fall 2024

Funding and reference group 

Akavia, Avarn Security, City of Gothenburg, City of Malmö, City of Stockholm, Confederation of Swedish Enterprise, Fryshuset, Insurance Sweden, Mellby Gård, Ministry of Finance, MKB fastighets, Swedish Bar Association, Swedish Enforcement Authority, Swedish National Courts Administration, Swedish Police Authority, Swedish Police Union, Swedish Prison and Probation Service, Swedish Property Federation, Swedish Prosecution Authority, Swedish Public Employment Service, Swedish Social Insurance Agency, Swedish Supermarket Owners’ Association, Swedish Tax Agency.