About the statistics
Name and topic
Name: Offences investigated
Topic: Social conditions, welfare and crime
Division for Income and social welfare statistics
Definitions of the main concepts and variables
An offence is considered completely investigated at the time a decision with legal efficacy has been made regarding the offence.
Offences are in the crime statistics defined as the actions, which by law are described as punishable at any given time. STRASAK has more than 600 different codes for classifying offences. Statistics on offences published by Statistics Norway, is grouped on the basis of two standards:
- Group of offence in which all crimes and misdemeanours are separated into ten main groups, and
- Type of offence in which the various crimes and misdemeanours are specified according to a standard (prepared by Statistics Norway) that basically follows the chapters of the law, and includes close to two hundred types and sub-types.
Category of offence is used about the division between crimes and misdemeanours . Crime is a punishable act, which by law is considered as being of a more serious nature than a misdemeanour (i.e. petty crime). Crimes and misdemeanours committed against the Penal Code are referred to in respectively the second and third part of the act. Punishable actions described in other acts are, according to Section 2 of the Penal Code, crimes if they carry a prison sentence of more than three months unless otherwise decided. Other punishable acts are misdemeanours. Some categories of offences (e.g. vandalism and certain special laws) can by law be both crimes and misdemeanours. Whether the individual act is a misdemeanour or crime appears in the statistics on types of offences .
Beside this criminal law differentiation between misdemeanours and crimes, the manner of dealing with misdemeanours is simpler than for crimes. When dealing with misdemeanours the police can decide whether or not to bring charges, but dealing with crimes the public prosecutor (or the Director of Public Prosecution) makes this decision. Misdemeanours can to a greater extent than crimes be settled with a ticket fine. Legal representation is usually not required for misdemeanours.
A decision with legal efficacy can be given by the police and the prosecuting authority, or by the courts. The legal decision implies that the police and prosecuting authority or courts consider the offence as completely investigated - and that further investigation is not of current interest (unless retrial at a later time). The basic material contains about 200 different types of legal decisions. How offences are settled by the police and prosecuting authorities, are described by the statistics on investigated offences. (Other registers than STRASAK are used for statistics on sanctions). All court decisions, e.g. unconditional imprisonment or acquittal, are for this reason classified as decided by prosecution in the statistics on investigated offences. Some decisions made by the police and the prosecuting authority, conclude that no offence has been committed. Cases with such decisions are not considered as offences and so not included in the statistics on investigated offences.
Persons charged are, by Statistics Norway's definition, persons who have a legal decision against them. Common to all "persons charged" is that they are regarded by the police and prosecuting authorities as perpetrators, and have had the status as charged at the completion of the investigation (prior to any prosecution and court trial).
A person suspected of having committed offences can get a legal status as charged at various times during the investigation of a criminal case (e.g. the status of prisoner in custody is person charged). Charges can, however, be withdrawn during the investigation so that by the completion of the investigation the person is no longer regarded as charged. In other words, persons who have been charged during the investigation, but not at the completion of the investigation, are not included in the statistics. Because the statistics do not cover everyone who has had the status of being charged, Statistics Norway's use of the term "charged" is not synonymous with corresponding terms in Section 82 of the Criminal Procedure Act. All "persons charged" in the statistics have, however, have had the status of charged in connection with the offences for which they have received a legal decision.
In some cases a person may be a participant in several offences and thus incur several charges in the course of the statistical year. The tables of persons charged show the number of different persons who have been charged in the course of the statistical year. In other words, a person is counted only once as charged in the course of statistical year. In other cases several persons may have participated in one individual offence, i.e. several persons may be charged with the same offence. In such cases, all these persons are included in the tables of persons charged. On the basis of these two factors, the number of persons charged will be different from the number of offences solved by charge.
Principal offence : A person, who has been charged with several offences in the course of the statistical year, will be grouped by the principal offence in the tables, i.e. by the offence, which by law carries the longest sentences.
The percentage of solved offences is calculated from Statistics Norway's classification of the legal decisions. As a main rule, all offences in which the police and prosecuting authority have charged at least one person at the completion of the investigation count as solved. The offence also counts as solved when prosecution is dropped or withdrawn, but in such cases no information is obtained on possible persons charged. The percentage is calculated from the number of offences solved by the police and prosecuting authority. This implies that all offences transferred to (with prosecution or charge in the magistrate's court) and decided in the courts, count as solved. This also applies to the offences in which the court at a later time has acquitted the putative perpetrators for the offences for which they have been charged. Cases in which the investigation has concluded that an offence has not taken place are not included in the statistics on investigated offences, or in the calculation of the percentage of solved offences. The percentage solved for various types of offences varies widely. An overall percentage of solved offences for the entire country, or for a police district, is therefore highly dependent on how the offences are distributed by type.
Recidivism : An ongoing survey of recidivism among persons charged at the completion of the investigation is carried out. The survey covers persons charged with crimes during the year five years ahead of the statistical year. Recidivism here is defined as a new charge in one or more of the following five years. The survey does not take into account various forms of recidivism obstacles during the observation period. Persons charged with uncertain information about identity and/or time of a crime, are not in the survey.
Police districts are used to break down violations of the law according to the body that is ascribed as owner of the criminal proceedings, on the date Statistics Norway takes an extraction of the basic data. In addition to the 27 geografic police districts (see Standard classifications), the Governor of Svalbard and some central Special agencies can also be owners (i.e. have responsibility for follow-up) of criminal cases during different stages of the criminal proceedings process. The Norwegian National Authority for Investigation and Prosecution of Economic and Environmental Crime (Økokrim) and The National Criminal Investigation Service (Kripos) have prosecuting authority and can decide criminal cases, and are therefore included in the category Special agency.
Age is defined as a person’s wholly lived years at the time of the offence.
Sex is defined based on two different sources. Where there is a match for personal ID numbers in the Central Population Register, the person`s sex is derived from this source. For all persons who cannot be identified in the Central Population Register (by means of date of birth, personal ID number or name), information about sex registered by the police is used.
Category of offence (crime and misdemeanour, see Definitions of the main concepts and variables, and appendix A in NOS Crime Statistics )
Group of offence (10 main groups, cf. appendix B in NOS Crime Statistics with list of all laws and articles)
Type of offence (cf. appendix A in NOS Crime Statistics with list of all laws and articles).
Police district (see Definitions of the main concepts and variables. Up to 31.12.2001: 54 police districts plus special agencies. From 01.01.2002 included: 27 police districts plus special agencies)
Age (Up to 1999 included: groups 5-13, 14-17, 18-20, 21-24, 25-29, 30-39, 40-59, 60-. From 2000 included: groups 5-14, 15-17, 18-20, 21-24, 25-29, 30-39, 40-59, 60-.)
National, county and police district level.
Frequency and timeliness
Annual. Normally published in the third quarter of the year subsequent to the statistical year.
Because of changes and other circumstances, the statistical years from 2002 and further are published later and with irregular intervals.
Raw data files of whole-year files from the Police Computing Service are stored electronically. Volume files with completely processed material are stored electronically (volumes from 1987 have been adapted to the new technological platform).
Background and purpose
The statistics describe how the police and prosecuting authority settle offences when investigation is completed, percentage of solved offences, alleged offenders when investigation is completed (persons charged) and recidivism among these. The statistics on completely investigated offences has been published annually from 1957 included. The statistics is used to describe the registered crimes from 1960 up to today (separate statistics on Offences reported to the police exists from 1993 and are used for this purpose if trends are to be described from this time).
After a gradual transition from reporting through forms to reporting electronically (completed in the years around 1990), the central police registration system (STRASAK) has been the basis for the stistics. In 2002 there was made changes in the processing in accordance with new structure for the police districts and the subsequent alteration in the police's registration systems (BL/STRASAK/PAL).
Users and applications
Major users are the media, research and education sector, interest organizations, the Ministry of Justice and the Police, and other public services and institutions associated with the justice sector. Beyond this the statistics serve as the basis for information for others interested in the status of and trends in crime.
Equal treatment of users
No external users have access to the statistics and analyses before they are published and accessible simultaneously for all users on ssb.no at 8 am. Prior to this, a notice is given in the Statistics Release Calendar. This is one of the most important Principles for Equal treatment of users in releasing statistics and analyses.
Coherence with other statistics
In general the offences included in the statistics offences reported shall same or later years be represented in the statistics over investigated offences, sanctions and imprisonments (see separate statistics for Criminal prosecutions, in Norwegian only ). When using the crime statistics it is, however, important to be aware that the various parts do not necessarily refer to the same population of offences within the same statistical volume. It can take a long time from an offence is reported until it is investigated and possibly sanctioned, in some cases years. The units counted ar also dissimilar in the different statistics, although offences are counted quite similar for reported and investigated offences. The tables on offences reported to the police are therefore not comparable with the other crime statistics.
Other closely related statistics at Statistics Norway are: the Survey of level of living, victims and crime (exposure to violence and theft), Victims of offences reported to the police , Police and prosecution - StatRes and Causes of death (murder).
Of related external statistics, the Police directorate (POD) also publish figures on percentage of offences solved and time of dealing with cases, based on investigated offences in STRASAK/PAL (only available in Norwegian ), but these are to be considered as operation statistics for the police, and should not be read as the official crime statistics. These statistics are also defined and produced on other criteria than used by Statistics Norway, and do not have directly comparable figures. The Norwegian National Criminal Investigation Services (Kripos) also publishes figures on homicides, but these statistics are counted from another definition of the selection than SSB's statistics over investigated offences (among other things the year of action, not the year of decision with legal efficacy).
Statistics Act §§ 2-1, 2-2, 3-2 (forms/registers).
The statistics cover all offences completely investigated within the statistical year. The statistics provide information about the type and number of offences, police district, scene of crime, the police decision, and the persons charged at completed investigation. It provides information about the age, sex, citizenship and place of residence, and recidivism of the persons charged. (see descriptions of concepts and variables in Definitions, and estimations in Collection of data revision and estimations).
From 1992 included, the statistics cover both crimes and misdemeanours. Previous years the statistics only cover crimes (see Definitions and Sources of error). Misdemeanours against the Road Traffic Act and Duty Act in which the sanction is imposed as a on the spot fine, are not covered by the statistics (see instead statistics on Sanctions ).
Each offence with a legal decision makes one unit in the basic material. Before 1994/1995 the practice was that several offences could be registered as one (see Comparability over time and space).
Data sources and sampling
From 1991 the data source is completely EDP based and drawn from the central police registration system, STRASAK, which covers all completed investigations of offences recorded byNorway's police districts (BL) as part of the processing of the criminal case. From 2002 the selection is decided in STRASAK, but the actual data extension are done through the police' analysis and management tool (PAL).
The various police districts are asked to provide corrected information in the cases where Statistics Norway finds logical errors and missing information in the data material. The statistical process includes information from the national register (see Population statistics), and previous volumes of statistics on investigated offences.
Not based on random sample but a complete selection, the statistics shall contain all offences and persons charged in criminal cases the police and prosecuting authority has registered as completely investigated during the year, see Population, Collection of data editering and estimations, Confidentiality and Comparability over time and space. The selection is also described in more detail, see Definitions of the main concepts and variables under Definitions.
Collection of data, editing and estimations
The data files are collected in digital form from Norwegian Police ICT Services (previously The Norwegian Police Data Processing Service (PDMT)) mid January. Norwegian Police ICT Services runs out the data from STRASAK/PAL. The register is centrally completely updated the day (longer before) after local registration in BL (this is less relevant than earlier). With that, Statistics Norway can obtain information about two weeks days after the end of the statistical period. Information on incorrect entries and missing data is obtained from the police districts and Police ICT Services in the course of the first and second quarter of the year though error tables. Information related to persons is electronically connected from SSB's population register.
The register systems of the police contain some validity controls of data. In addition, Statistics Norway undertakes controls and editering of the material. For example will deficient information on scene of crime by municipality, be added municipality to the extent possible out of other information from the register.
An overview of all controls and Statistics Norway's processing routines are found in "Statistikk over etterforskede lovbrudd. Dokumentasjon", Notater 1999/52, StatisticsNorway. Validity controls in STRASAK/PAL and Statistics Norway's processing routines are redeveloped as needed, resulting in constant improvement of the data material (see Comparability over time and space for new routines from 2002).
Figures are not based on estimations, as the three basic units consists of complete counts of the data from the police registers (for an account of concepts, see Definitions of the main concepts and variables under Definitions):
- All offences completely investigated are counted, with given characteristics (e.g. type of offence, police district and police decision). From these numbers the percentage of offences solved are calculated, in total and for each type and group of offence.
- All unique charged person are counted, and the number of these with given characteristics (e.g. sex and age). For persons with more than one offence during the year the principal offence are applied by the use of an indicator of graveness based on maximum and minimum sentence beside other characteristics of the criminal procedure.
- Recidivism is counted as charges during the last five statistical years against persons (with full personal identification number) charged in the statistical year prior to these five.
Calculations in per cent and per 1 000 inhabitants (5 year and up) are being made by use of number of inhabitants 1'st of January in the statistical year (also for each age group, sex, and geographical area - see Population statistics ).
The statistics implies particularly sensitive personal information and information on punishable offences considered as extremely sensitive. Statistics Norway administers the data basis for crime statistics with great caution. When releasing statistics showing few units, the protection of privacy is considered on each incident.
Comparability over time and space
There are many conditions that can be significant for the comparability over time of the different crime statistics, and is not described in a broad manner here. But a few central changes during the last decades can be pointed out:
Introduction of Strasak ca. 1985-1990
Before the 1980s individual forms with data on the crime cases were obtained from police districts and recorded by Statistics Norway. Oslo switched to edp based registration in 1979, followed by the police districts in Agder in 1981. STRASAK was introduced at the various police departments in subsequent years, and by the end of 1991 all districts had switched to electronic registration. A while after STRASAK was introduced at the various police districts, reporting to Statistics Norway was done electronically.
A reorganisation in 1984 entailed that STRASAK cover crimes finally given a legal decision during the statistical year (not completely investigated before a possible trial, as was previously the case). The previous selection criteria were, however, maintained for the police districts that did not report with STRASAK after 1984 (see Sources of error and uncertainty under Sources of error). When departments switched to reporting with STRASAK the selection criteria were changed. Because the selection criteria were different for the various departments, and were changed in conjunction with the transition to electronic reporting by the individual districts, some crimes were counted twice in the period from 1984 up to 1991/1992. The extent of the double registration caused by these transitions is uncertain. Probably there were not many double registrations, but it may have happened with certain serious crime cases where a charge was handed down at the end of the year in question.
New registration practice 1994/1995
Each offence with a legal decision makes one unit in the basic material. This has been the practice since 1994/1995. Before this, only one offence was registered when:
- Several offences were committed in one act against one victim. The most serious offence was registered.
- The same person committed several homogeneous offences over a period of time against one victim.
- One offence was committed as a path-breaker for the other offence.
More offences were, however, registered when an offence was committed to hide another offence, just as the practice since 1994/1995.
STRASAK has been under development for a long time regarding to quality assurance and registration of details. Because of this development the data source of the statistics contains more information than before. The changeover in 1994/1995 to registering all offences is of great importance, and caused an increase in the number of investigated offences in the statistics without there necessarily being more offences investigated.
Reorganisation of Strasak in 2002
As of 1 January 2002, a new structure for the police districts was established; where for one thing the number of police districts was halved. Statistics Norway has as result of this, and the following technical re-adjustments in the central police criminal register system (BL/STRASAK/PAL, from October 2002 included), changed the routines for producing the statistics on offences investigated. News on statistics on offences investigated from 2002 included:
- New police districts replace the previous geographical division. The possibilities of comparing these to statistics on police districts prior to 1 January 2002 are to a great extent restricted.
- Several persons charged without registered and valid official Norwegian reference number are being identified if they have committed more than one offence. This gives a somewhat lower number of persons charged and a higher number of persons charged with more than one offence, for persons committing offences when on a temporarily residence in Norway in particular.
- Statistics on the number of accessories shows to a greater extent the actual number of offenders with who the person charged has committed the offence in cooperation with. This involves a somewhat higher number of accessories than it would have been out of the previous method of surveying these.
- Transfers to Conflict Council are only made available as settlement valid in law only against persons charged over the age of consent. This involves that the number of transfers to Conflict Council decreases, and that prosecutions dropped, the offender not liable, become correspondingly more.
After a thorough examination of the different data basis and crime statistics, in addition to dialogue with Norwegian Police ICT Services, Statistics Norway is of the opinion that the statistics on offences investigated from 2002 and following, has become fairly comparable to previous years. The police reform, together with the changes made in Statistics Norway's own categories is however of some importance to comparability of the statistics over longer time.
Also other changes have been made, contributing to higher quality of the statistics, and influencing the comparability over time.
National Authority for Investigation and Prosecution of Economic and Environmental Crime inNorway(Økokrim) have been included in the statistic since 1995. After The National Criminal Investigation Service (Kripos) also was given prosecuting authority in 2005, the police district category "Special agencies" have been specified in tables, which includes both agencies.
Sources of error and uncertainty
The principal offence is defined as the offence, which by law carries the longest sentence. Many offences have a broad sentencing framework. Because only the general provisions of the law are taken into account and not the individual differences in the seriousness of the offences, this method could cause the charged person to be grouped under another offence than the most serious one in the specific case. Because three-fourths of the persons charged are charged with only one offence, and the others have a tendency to be arrested for the same type of offence, a relatively limited number of persons charged are classified under another offence than the most serious one.
Offences, in which the police complete the investigation by recommending prosecution, are not included in STRASAK until a legal decision is made. Consequently, it is the offences tried in the courts that come under the "Committed for trial" decision category (see Definitions of the main concepts and variables under Definitions and earlier sections on the transition to a new criterion for selections introduced with STRASAK in the time period from 1984 to 1991).
In the case of offences involving several perpetrators, the police decision can be different for the various persons charged. Tables, in which the offences are grouped by type of decision, show only the decision for one casual chosen of the persons charged (of all offences completely investigated in 1997, 2 per cent involved more than one person charged).
The decision "Transferred to Conflict Council" means that the offence reported to the police and the person charged have been transferred to a conflict council -and that the police and the prosecuting authority have been informed that the council has arrived at a solution. The offences that were transferred but not solved through mediation in the conflict council will get other legal decisions categorized under other types of decisions in the statistics.
The vast majority of offences have only one point of time at which the offence was committed, but for the offences that have taken place over a period of time the age is set according to age at the time of the first offence. In addition, the age of the person charged would always be set according to his or her age at the time of the most serious offence that the person is charged with in the course of the year. In some cases this causes the age of the person charged to be somewhat misleading: Persons under the age of consent (15) may appear in the statistics as charged and punished. The fact that persons under the age of 15 appear as charged or punished, however, are due to incorrect registration by the police or that the wrong decision was made by the prosecuting authority or court.
Based on experience, incorrect registration is often the reason why persons under the age of 5 are registered as charged. Therefore personal information about persons charged under the age of 5 is removed from the statistics (and the population aged 5 years and up is used to calculate persons charged per 1 000 inhabitants).
An offence can be included as part of the investigation of a complex of cases. This can be the case when a person is investigated for several homogeneous offences against various victims, or when many persons are investigated for one or more offences that have taken place in the same situation. An offence, and the legal decision made, will not be included in the statistics before all of the remaining offences in the complex of cases are legally decided. This entails that some offences are legally decided before the year the offence becomes part of the statistics (in the statistics for 1999, c. 6 per cent of offences were decided in a year prior to 1999).
Attempted crimes are in most cases punishable, while this is an exception for misdemeanours. Attempted crimes are usually registered as committed crimes in the basic material of the statistics. Surveys indicate that the rule previously was followed only exceptionally concerning murder, and that attempted murder up to 1987 was usually recorded as grievous bodily harm. After the introduction and development of STRASAK, attempts at certain types of offences, e.g. attempted murder and attempted rape, have been registered and presented as separate types of offences in the statistics.
Offences dismissed by the police are in the statistics regarded as completely investigated. If such a dismissed offence is solved in a subsequent year, it will count both the year it was dropped and the year it was solved.
Processing of the data at Statistics Norway show that the various police districts make some obviously incorrect entries. Every year some police districts do not return corrected lists to Statistics Norway. Information from the police districts that make corrections will be more complementing and correct than information from the police departments that do not return corrected lists.
BL/STRASAK contains a large selection of various categories for registering offences and legal decisions (see Definitions of the main concepts and variables under Definitions). As long as valid codes for offences and legal decisions are used, Statistics Norway cannot, by processing the statistics, discover whether the right categories are used. Partial non-response (in that certain variables are not given for some units) occurs, but with the aid of internal controls in STRASAK these are limited to less important variables.
The greatest possibility that incorrect categorization may have occurred in registering offences, is in the statistics on offences reported to the police , and then in particular the more specialized types of offences. Registration of type of offence and legal decision at the end of the investigation are made on a lawyer's evaluation, and therefore considered being more reliable than the registration done at the time of reporting to the police.
See Data sources and sampling under Production.
The crime statistics cover only registered crime, i.e. offences that the police discover or get knowledge of. Police resources and priorities and the tendency of people to report offences to the police, are of great importance to which acts become part of the crime statistics. An unknown number of offences are never registered. Such unregistered offences are usually called missing figures. Various interview surveys on self-reported crime and susceptibility to crime, indicate that unregistered crime is extensive (see Survey of level of living, victims and crime , Statistics Norway). What is registered of crime over time is necessarily also influenced by changes i laws and regulation (see Comparability over time and space under Production). These phenomenons are nonetheless not actual statistical "errors”, but elements that influences it.