About the statistics
Name and topic
Name: Penal sanctions
Topic: Social conditions, welfare and crime
Division for Income and social welfare statistics
Definitions of the main concepts and variables
Sanction: Each individual penal sanction against one physical or legal person, made legally enforceable and registered during the statistical year. Thus, for persons with more than one sanction during a year, each sanction is counted.
Sanctions refers here only to ticket fines (including on the spot fine), prosecution conditionally dropped or a court sentence on fine, community sentence, juvenile sanction, prison, special sanctions, loss of right, and sentence delay.
Sanctioned person: Each individual physical person registered with at least one sanction during the statistical year. Persons with more than one sanction during a year thus appear only once, represented by the sanction for the most serious offence (see “principal offence” below). Enterprises, organizations, public agencies, and other legal persons are not included.
Sentencing: Days for conditional and unconditional prison and NOK for fines.
Classification of offences
Offence is in the crime statistics defined as a violation of the law which at the time of the act was punishable. In the digital registers used a basis for the statistics on sanctions (SSP, BOT, SIRI), about 660 different codes are in use for registering offences committed today. The statistics on sanctions are following the Statistics Norway’s’ standard classification of these codes into group and/or type of principal offence.
Following the Penal Code of 2005 coming into effect on 1 October 2015, around 430 new codes were introduced into the police’ registration system for offences. These replaced the codes from the Penal Code of 1902. Consequentially, Statistics Norway now uses the new version of Standard for types of offences, Type of offence 2015, to classify both old and new codes. From the release of the year 2015 and onwards, the statistics thus contain the following breakdown of offences (see “Standard classification” below for more info):
Group of offence is a division of offences into nine main groups. These groups of offences are further divided into more specified types of offences.
Type of offence is a division of offences into about 150 unique types. Similar types of offences are grouped together to aggregated levels, where all levels are included in the nine groups of offences.
Category of offence was a classification of offences used in the statistics since the early 19th century (“justice” vs. “police cases”) up until 2014, where offences were classified as either a crime (felony) or a misdemeanor. For more information on this expired classification, see the version Types of offences 2006 in Klass and About the statistics for Sanctions 2014.
Principal offence: If a sanction includes several offences, it is registered by the offence which by law carries the highest maximum sentence. Persons registered with more than one sanction during the year, will be represented by the sanction with the principal offence which by law carries the highest maximum sentence.
Information about the sanctions
Type of judicial authority is the authority responsible for the final decision with legal force in a case: Prosecution authority and the court (further divided into City and district courts, Lower courts of appeal, and the Supreme court).
Type of sanction is a classification of the different penal sanctions based on the judicial authority and the content of the sanction.
The three forms of decided by the prosecution authority are:
- Prosecution conditionally dropped
- On the spot fine (only for less serious traffic- and customs offences)
- Ticket fine
The five main types of sanctions decided by the court are:
- Community sentence
- Conditional imprisonment
- Unconditional imprisonment
- Special sanctions and other type of sanction
“Special sanctions and other type of sanction” includes the sub-types preventive detention, compulsory health care sentence, compulsory care sentence and “other type of sanction”. “Other type of sanction” includes loss of rights, juvenile sentence, loss of right, and sentence delay (cf. prosecution conditionally dropped), but these are not specified in the statistics.
A court can also give some of these sanctions in combination, then represented by the principal (most severe) sanction in the statistics. By combining type of sanction and sentencing (assessment of sentence given in prison days and amount of fine), these combinations can be shown in more detail.
More about the types of punishments and other penal sanctions
Prosecution conditionally dropped (conditional waiver of prosecution) means that even though guilt is considered proved, further sanctioning is not carried out if during a fixed period certain conditions are adhered to. Normally this means a probationary period of two years where no new offences should be committed. Further terms could be given, such as drug testing or follow-up program for juvenile offenders. The statistics does not specify probationary period or terms.
Fine is a financial punishment either given as a result of a court verdict or as a ticket fine (including on the spot fine). The proceeds go to the state treasury. The courts issues judicial fines. The appropriate prosecuting authority can issue a ticket fine (writ prescribing an optional fine) or on the spot fine (simplified writ). Accepting a ticket (or on the spot) fine does not mean guilt is accepted, but with all fines a subsidiary prison sentence is set in case the person is unable to pay.
Community sentence replaced in in March 2002 the earlier community service. The sanction can consist of unpaid work that is a benefit for the community up to 420 hours, treatment, conflict counsel etc. Sentences to community service, that can appear in later statistical years if the offence was committed before March 2002, are classified as Community sentence.
Unconditional imprisonment means that the sentence must be served in prison.
Conditional imprisonment means that one avoids serving sentence in prison if during a fixed period the court's conditions are adhered to. Normally this means a probationary period of two years where no new offences should be committed. Further terms could be given, such as drug testing or follow-up program for juvenile offenders. The statistics does not specify probationary period or terms.
Preventive detention was introduced in January 2002 as a formal punishment for persons who are considered accountable for their acts. This sanction involves imprisonment and can be prolonged indefinitely, but only for five years at a time.
Compulsory mental health care and Compulsory care was introduced in January 2002 as new special sanctions for persons considered unaccountable for their acts. People who are considered psychotic or unconscious can be sentenced to compulsory mental health care and people considered severely mentally retarded can be sentenced to compulsory care. The sentenced person is left to the healthcare system. There is no time limit, but the person should be released if there no longer is danger of relapse.
Other type of sanction:
Juvenile sentence was introduced in July 2014 as a new type of penal sanction for offenders under 18 years old. Juvenile sentence can be given by a court as an alternative to unconditional imprisonment when a juvenile has committed serious or repeated offences. The court sets a time of implementation, but the exact content of the punishment is decided by a meeting at the Meditation Service. Juvenile sentence is categorized as “Other type of sanction”, but in tables with information on sentencing, the time of implementation is showed as days of conditional imprisonment.
Loss of right is a form of punishment that includes both loss of right to hold a position, practice an activity, as well as ban against contacting a certain person.
Sentence delay is a sanction issued by court similar to conditional imprisonment, but with no sentence issued at all (cd. prosecution conditionally dropped).
In cases where the older form of special sanction security detention was given without combination with unconditional prison, these are categorized under Other type of sanction.
Information about the persons
Age: A person's age is defined as his/her age at the time of the offence (latest possible) for principal offence. If information about the time of the offence is missing, age at the time of sentence is used. For on-the-spot-fines there is only information about date of legal force (which varies from date of offence if the fine was given by a traffic enforcement camera).
Sex: For persons registered with valid national identity number, information about sex is taken from the National Population Register. For persons not found in this register (through national identity number or name), information about sex is taken from the relevant sanction register. However, in the register for on-the-spot-fines (SIRI) there are no information on sex.
Citizenship: For persons registered with valid national identity number, information about citizenship is taken from the National Population Register. For persons not found in this register (through national identity number or name), information about citizenship is taken from the relevant sanction register. However, in the register for on-the-spot-fines (SIRI) there is no information on citizenship.
Criminal record: Every sanction against a person with one or more previously registered sanctions in the Criminal Record Registry (even during the same statistical year) is classified as “previous registered in the Criminal Record Registry”. Only persons with a sentence in the Criminal Record Registry are checked for criminal record this way, thus termed “all with clarified registration in the Central Criminal Register”. The criteria for registration in this central registry is that the sanction include imprisonment, community service or a special sanction, loss of rights or postponed sentencing. Fines and prosecution conditionally dropped are only registered if the offence was a crime (felony).
Because of new rules for registration in the new sanction register, the tables on criminal record har not been continues after 2015.
Group of offence (new from 2015)
Type of offence (new from 2015)
County (place of residence)
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+).
The statistics is published at national level and to some extent by county.
Frequency and timeliness
Some statistics are reported to international bodies such as UN (UNODC) and Eurostat.
Both raw data files, delivered from the Norwegian Police ICT Services and the Norwegian National Collection Agency, as well as final processed production files are also stored on Linux.
Background and purpose
The statistics on sanctions are produced to give an overview of the use of formal punishment in Norway, the frequency of different types of sanctions and the assessment of sentence for different types of offences. The statistics shall also give information on key characteristics of the persons sentenced. The statistics on sanctions is financed by the Ministry of Finance.
The statistics on sanctions has been produced in different ways since 1835 and by Statistics Norway since 1883 (from the start translated to French, from the 1950s to English). In the 1860s the statistics expanded to include sentences and ticket fines for misdemeanors. At the same time with the transition from manual to digital central Criminal Record Registry (SSP) in 1978, prosecutions dropped for misdemeanors were also included, as well as sanctions for violations of the military penal code (see historical archive and Historical Statistics 1994).
Until 1996 the statistics was based on simple, summary statements of misdemeanors, while the data on crimes contained detailed specifications. With a change in the production of the statistics in 1997, also affecting statistical criteria, individual specifications on misdemeanors were taken into use.
Along with the 1997 change, 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 2003 figures for persons sanctioned have been part of the statistics. From 2005 this statistical unit have been further developed and expanded.
This statistic published in StatBank (from October 2014) include more, and more detailed, tables, available for years back to 2002 (and for sanctioned persons back to 2005).
In 2015 a new Criminal Record Registry (SSP3.0) was taken into use at 1 October, at the same time as the new Penal Code 2005 took effect.
The new Penal Code taking effect caused Statistics Norway to make a new standard for classification of offences, with nine new “groups of offence” and 150 new “types of offence”. In addition the old legal division between crimes (felonies) and misdemeanors was discontinued. This division has been fundamental for the statistics throughout its history and, and causes changes in almost all of the regular tables.
From 2019 on-the-spot-fines for maritime offences are included in the statistics.
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. The statistics on sanctions have information only about offences that has lead to a formal penal sanction and does not show the full extent of punishable acts committed within the Norwegian population or selected parts of it.
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 on sanctions is one out of four anual main statistics in the area of crime statistics. The other three are statistics on 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 or statistical units. The investigation of an offence can be completed in another year than the year it was reported. And one sanctions can be a reaction to several offences commited by the same person. The tables under sanctions are therefore not directly comparable with the tables under the other statistics.
The Statistics Act, sections 2-1, 2-2, and 3-2. Police Register Act, section 9.
The statistics covers all sanctions with legal efficacy registered during the year. To have legal efficacy means that all possibilities for appeal is exhausted.
Of all penal sanctions listed in the Penal Act 2005, the statistics includes prosecution conditionally dropped, ticket fines (including on the spot fine) and court sentences on fine, community sentence, juvenile sanction, imprisonment, special sanctions, loss of right, and sentence delay.
The statistics has information on type of sanction, type of offence, sentencing, the offender's age, sex, place of residence and citizenship and type of judicial authority.
The reporting unit is the Police ICT-services (PIT, under the National Police Directorate) for SSP-data (and earlier BOT-data), and the Norwegian National Collection Agency (SI, under the directorate of Taxes) for on-the-spot-fines.
Data sources and sampling
The data on most types of sanctions (except on the spot fines) are collected from the Norwegian Central Criminal Record and Police Information System (SSP) owned by the National Police Directorate (POD). The National Criminal Investigation Service (Kripos) is administrative responsibility for the SSP, and is the source when Statistics Norway needs further information about certain cases.
From 1 October 2015 a new central Criminal Record Register (SSP3.0) was implemented, at the same time as the new Penal Code 2005 and a new Police Register Regulations, section 44-4 (cf. the Police Register Act, section 9) took effect, with a broadened mandate for registration. According to the old Criminal Record Act section 1, only crimes (felonies) and court issued sanctions (except for fines for misdemeanors). In the new Criminal Record Register all sanctions except for on-the-spot-fines are registered.
For prosecutions conditionally dropped, ticket fines and fines by sentence given for a misdemeanor committed before 1.10.2015 data were collected from the Central Register for Fines (BOT), also owned by POD. Since 2019 BOT has been completely taken out as a data source for the statistics on penal sanctions.
Data for on-the-spot fines are collected from the SIAN-register (SIRI prior to 2019) administered by the Norwegian National Collection Agency (SI), under the Directorate of Taxes (SKE).
The handling of the data for statistical purposes also draws upon information gathered from the SSB’s population register, BeReg (a copy of the National Population Register), population statistics published by the SSB and previous years of the statistics on sanctions.
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 normally produced during the first half-year succeeding the statistical year. Information on erroneous registrations and insufficient data are obtained from the National Criminal Investigation Service (Kripos) and the Norwegian National Collection Agency (SI) during the 1st and 2nd quarter.
Until 1 October 2015, prosecution conditionally dropped, ticket fines or sentences to fine for misdemeanor were not registered in the sanction register (SSP), and information from the fine register (BOT) were therefore used for these cases. As of 1 October 2015, such sanctions will also be registered in the new sanction register, with the exception where the misdemeanor has been committed before 1 October 2015 and will thus be punished and registered in accordance with the old law and regulations. In cases where a case is registered in both registers, only the one from the reaction register is included in the statistical material. For the 2019-statistics BOT taken out as a source in its entirety.
Quality controls aimed at identifying errors and supplying missing information is 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.
For an overview (in Norwegian) of data controls and Statisics Norway’s data handling routines see “Documentation”.
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
For years prior to 1978 see “Background and purpose”. 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 publications as well as documentation memos (see older archives).
From the 1997 statistics the statistical unit have been changed from sanction with legal efficacy to sanction registered. While this assures that all sanctions are included in the statistics, changes in the speed of registration can affect the amount of cases in the statistics from one year to another. 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 made enforceable. This has been especially visible in the statistics for 2000-2002, in 2007 and 2015.
The shift to a new sanction register (SSP3.0) 1 October 2015 resulted in a significant change in how fast cases get registered inn. The new registration praxis means that information about the sanctions, especially the legally enforceable sentences in large criminal cases, are handled more directly from STRASAK (the police’s central criminal case register) to SSP3.0 by police and prosecution. It is probable that the new registration praxis increased the 2015 statistics somewhat.
There are uncertainties related to the number of prosecutions conditionally dropped that have been delivered in the source material from the police for previous years. Comparisons with statistics on persons charged indicate that there has been a significant number of missing units of prosecutions conditionally dropped in the statistical years before 2007 and especially around 2002. Since 2013 special quality assurance has been done on these cases.
From 2005 the statistical unit “sanctioned person” have been further developed and expanded. The unit is different from former publications (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 results in somewhat fewer sanctioned persons.
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.
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. These more detailed tables are only published in the StatBank back to 1997 (first statistics on sanctioned person from 2005).
Principal offence: In the data extracted from the former version of the reaction register (SSP2.0), the determination of principal offence was made by the police and the prosecuting authority. Information about other offences in the case was not recorded in a sufficiently structured manner for Statistics Norway to use for statistical purposes. With the new register, Statistics Norway receives the same information about all offences in the case, and can thus determine the principal offence as the offence with the highest maximum sentence. This change in determination of principal offence causes some differences as of the 2016 figures.
Citizenship: From the statistical year 2016, the information on citizenship is more complete than earlier years. Information about citizenship is now held in the statistics for persons registered with only a temporary ID-number (D-number) in the population register who have been issued with an on-the-spot-fine for traffic or custom offence. This means fewer sanctioned persons will be registered with unknown citizenship in the statistics. However, comparisons with earlier years will also be more difficult when it comes to sanctioned persons in total and for the sub categories of other offences for profit or traffic offences. The change mainly affects the numbers for (non-Norwegian) European citizens. The number of sanctioned persons for this group in total was 18 per cent higher in 2016 than it would have been without information about citizenship for the D-number population (47 percent higher for other offences for profit and 17 per cent higher for traffic offences).
For the statistical year 2019, on-the-spot fines for maritime offences are included in the statistics for the first time (see Forskrift om forenklet forelegg i fritids- og småbåtsaker, cf. Lov om fritids- og småbåter (småbåtloven) § 42). It has been possible to on-the-spot fines such offenses since 2001, but data on such reactions has not been obtained from the Norwegian National Collection Agency before 2019. These cases thus constitute a minor breach of the statistics both in 2019 and around 2002 (as seen in the decrease in the number of fines imposed for maritime offenses this year). The 1,346 simplified fines for maritime conditions in 2019 constitute a relatively small breach in relation to 2002-2018 (but not earlier) in the number of punitive reactions and punished persons in total, as well as for all groupings of simplified fines and traffic violations. The violation can be identified in tables that show the type of reaction divided into the main type of offense, ie for simplified fines given for violation of «Other transport and traffic legislation», see e.g. StatBank table 10622.
In principle, on-the-spot fines for road traffic violations on Svalbard are also included for the first time in 2019 (cf. Regulations on the Road Traffic Act with the validity of regulations on Svalbard). However, such on-the-spot fines for Svalbard are rare, and none in 2019.
For 2019, contact bans (Penal Code 2005 § 58) are also included in the data as a type of loss of rights (Penal Code 2005 chapter 10). However, it is very rare that any loss of rights is given as a reaction alone and there are no such cases in 2019.
In 2019-statistics, data from the BOT register have been completely removed as a basis for the statistics. Since the new Penal Code came into force on 1 October 2015, all reactions that were previously only registered in the BOT register are now also registered in the Reaction Register. Since cases committed before the law came into force must still be registered according to old practice, there has been a backlog of older misdemeanor cases that have been necessary to retrieve from the BOT register. In 2019-data, however, the lag is so small that it is probably less than the errors that used to occurred due to partially overlapping extracts from two registers (in the form of duplicates and duplicate deletions): based on 2019 raw data from BOT where cases are registered as misdemeanors committed before 1.10.2015 (including breaches of the Courts Act, lack of tax deduction, driving and rest time) there would have been an estimated 25 more reactions that would have been included in the final statistics if BOT data had been included in this year. This does not constitute a significant change in the statistics. Due to the limitation periods in the Penal Code, it is also very unlikely that there will be a significant number of such older misdemeanor cases with fines as a reaction in future years, if any at all.
Sources of error and uncertainty
Statistics Norway (SSB) has no possibility to control for missing units caused by lack of registration in the various registers. Partial lack of data on certain units does occur, especially for on the spot fines (from SIAN, earlier SIRI) against foreign nationals, where date of birth, living address and gender not necessarily are registered. Citizenship are never registered in SIAN.
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. In the older Criminal Record Register (SSP2.0) the principal offence was already selected and registered before SSB got the data. Kripos made in their registration of principal offence a judgment of the offence’s seriousness from the sentencing framework, similarly to how SSB applies the principal offence. However, SSB does not have good enough insight into exactly how the Kripos’ judgment is done in all cases. Thus it cannot be ruled out that the praxis differs somewhat. With data from the new Sanction Register (SSP3.0) from 1 October 2015, SSB applies the principal offence in all cases.
Persons with and without a valid personal identity number in the population register are identified and given information based on different criteria. When identified by using date of birth and name, instead of identity number, it is a higher risk of identifying one actual person as two different persons, because of typing errors and different use of names. Of all sanctions (excluding on the spot fines) given to physical persons in 2002, about 5 per cent where given to a person without a valid identity number. In 2014 this share had increased to 12 per cent. Because of double citizenships, amongst other things, there is a certain discrepancy between the citizenship registered by the police, and the citizenship registered in the population register that cannot be explained by erroneous registrations. The population register prioritizes Norwegian citizenship.
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.