Most violent Swiss city named after burglary rates rise for first time in decade

Most violent Swiss city named after burglary rates rise for first time in decade

New data from the Federal Statistical Office (FSO) has revealed the cities in Switzerland with the highest crime rates, with two areas in the north of the country taking the top spots. Authorities noted that last year saw a significant rise in criminality, with rates of theft and burglary increasing for the first time in 10 years.

Violent crime rates increase in Switzerland

According to the new data, reported across the Swiss media, 86.693 people were arrested for a crime by Swiss police in 2022. Last year saw a significant increase in violent crimes, rising by 16,6 percent compared to 2021 to levels unseen since public records were first introduced in 2009. Serious bodily harm and rape were the crimes that saw the biggest rises, increasing by 17 percent and 14,5 percent respectively. 

For the first time in 10 years, the emergency services in Switzerland also saw a rise in the number of burglaries and thefts reported. 35.732 burglaries and 174.702 thefts were catalogued by police last year, 14,6 and 17,4 percent more than in 2021 respectively. The FSO noted that after crime rates fell due to the COVID pandemic and subsequent restrictions, crime rates have shot back up to 2019 levels. 

Basel and Solothurn had the highest crime rates in 2022

In terms of specific areas, Basel was named the most violent city in the country, reporting 13,6 violent crimes per 1.000 inhabitants over last year. Other urban areas like Zurich (10,8) and Lausanne (11) also reported high rates of violent crime.

In terms of all crime, however, Basel was pipped to second place by Solothurn. The city registered 196,5 crimes per 1.000 inhabitants last year, compared to 125,5 per 1.000 in Basel.

Change in culture and attitude to blame for high crime, says expert

When asked why violent crime rates increased so much, criminologist Dirk Baier told 20 Minuten that the phenomenon can be blamed on a rise in knife culture among all age groups, not just young adults: “Many people take one with them when they go out in the evening or when they meet friends. Anyone who carries a stabbing weapon is more likely to use it.”

Another reason for the rise, according to Baier, was that people are now more likely to congregate, drink and party in public spaces, increasing the chance of confrontation. He added that violent behaviour has also been instilled in some young men, who are now “more prone to violence” thanks to a “problematic idea of masculinity” fuelled by all facets of online culture.

Finally, he argued that the increase in the number of rape cases reported is mainly because women and men feel more confident in reporting the crime. “It seems that victims' willingness to report a sex offender to the police has increased. It's a gratifying development," he concluded.

Higher crime rates in Switzerland are a pity, says police president

Speaking to reporters, President of the Conference of Cantonal Police Commanders Mark Burkhard said that "the increase in registered crimes is a pity and annoying." He explained that the rise in violent crimes was particularly worrying, but noted that it was difficult to compare the statistics from 2022 to 2021 and previous years due to the effects of the COVID pandemic.

Helpful links for English-speaking victims of crime in Switzerland

If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this piece, here are some helpful links to Swiss services offered in English:

For more information about the study, please consult the FSO website.

Thumb image: / Michael Derrer Fuchs

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Jan studied in York and Sheffield in the UK, obtaining a master's in broadcast journalism and a bachelor's in history. He has worked as a radio DJ, TV presenter, and...

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