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Crime in Switzerland down 3%, survey shows

Police race to surround a house in Bern where a suspect is hiding out in March 2013 Keystone

Overall crime fell by 3% in Switzerland last year, mainly due to a drop in the number of thefts. There was a decline in the number of minors and young adults charged, as well as asylum-seekers.

The total number of crimes recorded in the annual Police Crime Statistics by the Federal Statistics Office declined to 725,687 in 2013 – a drop of 3% compared to the previous year.

Statistics experts say the decline is the result of efforts by the country’s 26 cantonal police authorities.

However, the Association of Swiss Police Officers warns against complacency.

“Switzerland is definitely no longer among the safest countries in the world,” the association president Jean-Marc Widmer said on Monday.

He welcomes the efforts by individual political bodies to fight crime and calls for increased police presence in the streets, tougher penalties and more prisons.

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Thefts, fraud, blackmail

The number of recorded thefts went down to 217,978 – 8% less than in 2012. It is the first decline in three years. In addition 11% fewer hold-ups were also registered last year.

According to the statistics office, cases involving fraud or blackmail were notable exceptions, up 15% and 67%, respectively. Cases of domestic violence were also up 4%, but the office stressed that this figure was likely to be underestimated.

Police recorded an increase in cases of drug consumption, mainly cannabis, in 2013, despite an easing of sanctions last October. (see related story)

As in recent years, the number of young offenders and young adults aged 18-25 caught committing crimes continue to fall – 6.7% and 6.8%, respectively. The percentage of crimes committed by asylum-seekers also fell – 23% – in 2013, after a 38.7% increase the previous year.

Last year’s crime hotspots were Lausanne (209 reported crimes per 1,000 inhabitants), followed by Bern (167), Geneva (160), Zurich (137) and Basel (128). All reported sizeable decreases. The Swiss average is 71.5.

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