Social conditions, welfare and crime;Immigration and immigrants;Svalbard
Sanctions and sanctioned persons in Norway. In 2013: Big increase in sanctions for drug crimes. Also some more sanctions for sexual offences, violence and theft. Most fines and ticket fines for traffic offences.

Penal sanctions2013


About the statistics


Name and topic

Name: Penal sanctions
Topic: Social conditions, welfare and crime

Responsible division

Division for Income and social welfare statistics

Definitions of the main concepts and variables

The statistics include two statistical units:

1) Sanction : All sanctions registered during the statistical year. A sanction is a ticket fine (including on the spot fine), prosecution conditionally dropped or sanction with legal efficacy in the form of community sentence, juvenile sanction, unconditional or conditional imprisonment and/or fine, sentence delay, preventive detentions, compulsory mental health care sentences or compulsory care sentence. Sanctions are crossed with e.g. type of sanction, type of offence, sentencing, type of judicial authority, age, sex and citizenship. Since each sanction counts as one unit, each sanction against an offender during the year is counted in the statistics.

2) Sanctioned persons : All persons registered with at least one sanctions during the statistical year. These persons are among other things presented by sex, age, place of residence and citizenship. Enterprises and other juridical units may also be given sanctions, but are not included in the statistics on sanctioned persons. Persons with more than one sanction during a year appear only once, represented by the sanction that includes the offence that carries the highest maximum sentence.

Specification of units and variables:

Offence : In the criminal statistics, an offence is defined as acts which at the time of the crime is considered as punishable. In the Norwegian Central Criminal Record and Police Information System (SSP), about 600 different codes are used for registering offences. The statistics on offences published by Statistics Norway are grouped by group of offence and type of offence; which are official standards for classification of offences.

Group of offence : Standard classification of all offences by ten main groups, when divided into its most detailed version. Group of offence is an official standard used by other government agencies.

Type of offence : Mainly, the classification type of offence follows the chapters and paragraphs of the Penal Code, and distinguishes between crimes and misdemeanours in special legislation. In Statistics Norway’s criminal statistics, type of offence is the most detailed classification of offences, and depending on the scope of the statistical unit in each table, two different specifications of this variable are applied. In statistics on Sanctions, use of the most specified version is expanded from 2012 and onwards. The type of offence classification is a standard developed by Statistics Norway, and is not in any significant scope used for statistical purposes by others. This in spite of some levels of similarity between Statistics Norway and for instance the Police’s definitions of certain types of offences.

Category of offence : A classification of all offences by crimes and misdemeanours. This is not to be regarded as a separate standard, since crimes and misdemeanours are included in the statistics using the standard for type of offence (see above). This two-tier classification of all punishable acts is stipulated in the current Norwegian penal legislation and this legal distinction is mainly used for statistical purposes and by parties other than Statistics Norway. A crime is normally a punishable act of a more serious nature than a misdemeanour. Crimes and misdemeanours under the Penal Code are referred to in the second and third part of the act respectively. According to Section 2 of the Penal Code, punishable acts described in other laws are crimes if they carry a sentence of more than three months' imprisonment, unless otherwise decided. Other punishable acts are misdemeanours. Some types of offences (e.g. criminal damage and some special laws) can, by law, be both a crime and a misdemeanour. Whether the individual act is a misdemeanour or crime appears in the statistics on type of offence. In the crime statistics, both crimes and misdemeanours are treated as crime, but the main focus is on crimes. "Offences", "punishable acts" and "crime" are used as collective terms for both crimes and misdemeanours.

Principal offence : If a sanction includes several offences, it is registered by the offence that carries the highest maximum sentence. Persons registered with more than one offence during the year, will only be included once in the statistics on sanctioned persons. In such cases, the person is represented by the information in the sanctions which by law carries the most severe maximum sanction.

Age : A person's age is defined as his/her age at the time of the offence. If information about the time of the offence is missing, age at the time of sentence is used.

Type of sanction : The total number of sanctions issued by the Prosecution Authority and the courts, by various variables. Type of sanctions issued by the Prosecution Authority are presented by prosecutions conditionally dropped, ticket fines and on the spot fines for traffic and Duty Act misdemeanours. Type of sanctions pronounced by the courts is presented by fines, community sentence, conditional imprisonment, unconditional imprisonment and special sanctions. These types of court sanctions are further specified in the StatBank, compared to categories in earlier publications.

Type of judicial unit : The type of authority issuing or pronouncing the legally valid sanction. Statistics distinguishes between the Prosecution Authority and the courts (District Court, Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court).

Criminal record : Every person with one or more previously registered entries in the Criminal Record Registry. This means that the sanctioned person one time or more during his/her lifetime has been sanctioned by imprisonment, community service or a special sanction, or has been sanctioned to loss of rights or postponed sentencing. Having committed at least one crime and having been issued a ticket fine/fine, or prosecution conditionally dropped, also counts as a previous entry. The StatBank tables with this variable from 2011 and onwards therefore inhibits slights differences compared to corresponding tables prior to 2011. Previous tables are limited to sanctions in crime cases only, whereas new tables include every previous entry in the Criminal Record Registry, regardless of being crimes or misdemeanours.

Sex : This variable is mapped out by using two different data sources. For persons registered with valid national identity number, the person’s sex is determined from information in the National Population Register. For unidentifiable persons (by national identity number or name), the person’s sex is determined from information registered in Norwegian Central Criminal Record and Police Information System (SSP) or the Central Registry for Fines (BOT). The data basis from the Register for collection of monetary claims from sanctions (SIRI) under the State Agency for the Recovery of Fines, Damages and Costs, including on the spot fines, does not include information on sex. This means that for any person not identifiable in the National Population Register that is issued an on the spot fine, there will not be any information regarding sex available. This leads to a relatively high share of sanctioned persons with unknown sex in cases of traffic offences and offences for profit.

Citizenship : is defined based on two different data sources. Where there is a match for personal ID numbers in the Central Population Register, the person’s citizenship is derived from this source. For unidentifiable persons (by means of date of birth, personal ID number or name), the persons`s citizenship is determined from the information registered by the police in the Norwegian Central Criminal Record and Police Information System or the central register for fines. The data basis from the SIRI register under the State Agency for the Recovery of Fines, Damages and Costs, including on the spot fines, does not include information on citizenship. This means that for any person not identifiable in the National Population Register that is issued an on the spot fine, there will not be any information regarding citizenship available. This leads to a relatively high share of sanctioned persons with unknown citizenship in cases of traffic offences and offences for profit. 

Standard classifications

The following of Statistics Norway's internal standards are 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). Type of offence (see appendix A in NOS Crime Statistics )

County (place of residence)

Citizenship and Continents

Age: By single year or by the criminal statistics standard for age groups (in the most detailed cases 15-17, 18-20, 21-24, 25-29, 30-39, 40-49, 50-59, and 60+).

Administrative information

Regional level

The statistics is published at national level and to some extent by county.

Frequency and timeliness

Annual statistics

International reporting

Some statistics are reported to international bodies such as UN (UNODC) and Eurostat.


The annual raw data files supplied by the Norwegian Police ICT Services (PIT, formerly the National Police Computing and Material Service (PDMT)) are stored permanently in a secured archive area. The annual files that are used for the statistics production are also stored as SAS files, until they are no longer used.


Background and purpose

The statistics on sanctions has been produced in different ways since 1835. In the first thirty years it only included crimes. In the 1860s the statistics expanded to include sentences and ticket fines for misdemeanours. The current form and content was introduced in 1978, when prosecutions dropped for misdemeanours were included. Until 1996 the statistics was based on simple, summary statements of misdemeanours, while the data on crimes contained detailed specifications.

Following a reorganisation in 1997, individual specifications on misdemeanours were included, among other things. From then on crimes and misdemeanours have to a great extent been listed in the same tables, and the distinction between the two types has become less marked. Along with the 1997 reorganisation, a classification of ten groups of offences was introduced in addition to the traditional classification of 40-50 types of offences. A classification of offence of profit, offences of violence, sexual offences and others was removed in 1992 because the definitions, especially for offences of violence, no longer were in accordance with the common understanding of the users. From 2005 the statistics of sanctions are further developed and expanded. The unit is different from former publications (i.a Haslund 2004 and table 46 in 2003 and 2004) regarding persons without a valid Norwegian personal identification number, which now is identified by name. This new identification method of sanctioned persons result in somewhat fewer sanctioned.

Users and applications

The main users are the media, researchers and the education sector, the Ministry of Justice and the Police, National Criminal Investigation Service (NCIS) and the Office of the Public Prosecutor. Beyond this the statistics form the basis of information to other people or organizations concerning the state and development in the area of 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 08 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

Statistics of sanctions is one out of four in the area of crime statistics. The rest are statistics of offences reported to the police (including a separate statics on victims of offences reported to the police), offences investigated and imprisonments. When using crime statistics, it is important to be aware that the various parts do not necessarily refer to the same population of offences. The investigation of an offence can be completed in another year than the year it was reported. The tables under sanctions are therefore not comparable with the tables under the other statistics.

Legal authority

The Statistics Act, § 3-2

EEA reference

Not relevant



The statistics covers all sanctions with legal efficacy for prosecution conditionally dropped, ticket fines (including on the spot fine) and sentences, registered in the statistical year. The statistics presents an overview of the number of sanctions with information on type of sanction, type of offence, sentencing, the offender's age, sex, place of residence and citizenship and type of judicial authority.

Data sources and sampling

The data are collected from the Norwegian Central Criminal Record and Police Information System (SSP) and the central register for fines (BOT). Data are also collected from the SIRI register under the State Agency for the Recovery of Fines, Damages and Costs.

The police have made significant changes in the method of registration into the Central registry for fines (BOT), which among other things renders possible more detailed information than before. The data Statistics Norway gathers from this registry, as one of three data basis for the statistics on Sanctions, are therefore changed and expanded from 2012 and onwards. This has caused changes in Statistics Norway’s handling of the data, as well as improvements in the scope, coverage and quality of the statistics.

The handling of the data for statistical purposes also draws upon information gathered from the National Population Register (personal data), population statistics and previous years of Sanction statistics.

The statistics is not based on samples, but on the registration of all sanctions each year, see Population.

Collection of data, editing and estimations

The data are obtained electronically from the registers after the end of the statistical year. The statistics on Sanctions is produced during the first half-year succeeding the statistical year. Information on erroneous registrations and insufficient data are obtained from the Criminal Police Centre and the State Agency for the Recovery of Fines, Damages and Costs during the 1 st and 2 nd quarter.

Quality controls aimed at identifying errors and supplying missing information are carried out regularly. Corrections are made in cooperation with the responsible authority.

The statistics on Sanctions are calculated by adding up the number of sanctions with the prevailing variables, e.g. the number of sanctions, by sex, age and principal offence. Per 1 000 population (over the criminal responsibility age – 15 years from 1990 and onwards; 14 years prior to 1990) is calculated from population figures from January 1st after the statistical year.

An overview of data controls and Statisics Norway’s data handling routines up to 2006 is found in the memo Dokumentasjon av statistikk over straffereaksjoner: Statistikksystemet, eksemplifisert med 2006-årgange (Thorsen og Haslund 2008) (only in Norwegian). 

Seasonal adjustment

Not relevant


The statistics on Sanctions include personal data and information on sentencing which are considered to be extremely sensitive. Thus, Statistics Norway administers and handles the data basis for criminal statistics with great caution.

When publishing statistics with few units, Statistics Norway consider the issue of privacy protection in the particular case. The statistics are published with figures at a relatively high aggregation level, for example regional figures for the whole of the country. When grouping these figures on lower levels (e.g. county of residence), the crossing variables are at a higher aggregation level – e.g. group of offence and age group, as opposed to the more detailed variables on type of offence and one-year age intervals.

The dotting of cells with few units is normally not necessary of anonymity reasons, and is normally not carried out in any of the criminal statistics published by the same principles. However, when publishing statistics with few units, these practices are considered in each case. In the case of grouping variables and high levels of detail, as well as dotting, the issues of data quality are also considered.

Comparability over time and space

In broad outline, when it comes to the number of sanctions for crimes and misdemeanours, the statistics is comparable back to 1923 for dismissals, back to the 1860s for the remaining types of sanctions, and back to 1835 for crimes. Nevertheless, when using historical time series it is of importance to take into account the changes in criminal legislation and the courts’ practice. Some of these changes are described in the annual NOS Crime statistics (up to and including 2005) and documentation memos.

This statistic published in StatBank (from October 2014) include more, and more detailed, tables with type of sanction, type of offence, age, sex and type of judicial authority. Additionally, there are more figures on sanctions by whether or not they are formerly registered in the Central Criminal Register. Also, statistics on sanctioned person now include citizenship. These more detailed tables published through the StatBank are not comparable further back than 2002 (first statistics on sanctioned person from 2005). Mainly are tables previously published up to 2010 continued in the StatBank. However, some previous tables may be replaced by new and somewhat altered tables in the StatBank (e.g. historical tables on sanctions by citizenship only included crime cases, whereas the new StatBank table 10627 with numbers from 2011 include all type of sanctions.

Accuracy and reliability

Sources of error and uncertainty

After the reorganisation of the statistics in 1997, the statistical unit has been sanction registered in the statistical year as opposed to sanction pronounced in the statistical year, which was used previously. The change was caused by the delay from sanctions being pronounced to registration in the statistical data sources. This new unit therefore implied a relevance improvement. However, the new unit has made the statistics more vulnerable to irregular registration, this was espesially the case in 2007 where 2 000 more crimes than previous years was registrated. Delayed registrations that are being caught up with in the following year may cause changes in the statistics that do not represent any genuine changes in the number of sanctions pronounced. All sanctions are included in the statistics, but the share included in the same year as they were pronounced may vary.

When it is determined what constitutes the principal offence, only the general penal provisions of the law are considered. On rare occasions this method may result in a sanction for an offence that does not carry the highest maximum sentence.

Some types of sanctions are not specified in the tables, but grouped with related sanction types. For instance, unconditional imprisonment combined with a fine is counted as unconditional imprisonment.

Sanctions that include a fine combined with imprisonment or community sentence are covered by two of the data sources. SSP shows the exact composition of the sanction, while BOT only shows that the sanction includes a fine. If a case in SSP and a case in BOT are identical with regard to national identity number, jurisdiction, date of primary sentence, type of offence and size of the fine, the case in BOT will not be included in the statistics.


Not relevant