Crime in Norway: The Facts & Figures

Home » Living in Norway » Crime in Norway: The Facts & Figures

Is Norway a safe place to live or visit? We take a look at the facts and figures behind Norway's crime rate to try and give you an answer.

Norway frequently sits near the top of the World Happiness Chart, a list usually dominated by Nordic countries. In the 2019 rankings, Norway occupied second place behind Finland. Behind Norway were our Nordic neighbours Denmark and Iceland.

Although not a direct factor in the criteria for producing that list, crime levels are also an important barometer to consider when gauging the “happiness” of a nation.

Handcuffs on the Norwegian flag

For instance, if a country has a low crime rate then people will feel safe and this ultimately results in a happier society. Of course, there are many other factors to consider too.

The crime rate in Norway

Norway’s fight against crime is headed up by 188 police officers per 100,000 people. In 2018, there were 317,927 offences reported to the Norwegian police across the length and breadth of Norway. That was the lowest figure for ten years. But of course, one offence is not the same as another.

Read more: Prisons in Norway

So, how does that number look when broken down into categories? We've dug into the statistics to bring you this guide to the facts and figures of crime in Norway.

When reading these figures, remember to consider Norway’s population. As of January 2020, that figure stood at about 5.35 million people.

Murder / homicide rates in Norway

Norway’s murder rate is very low. In 2020, the country recorded just 31 homicides, although that was the highest rate in seven years. Reports also reveal that killings are predominantly carried out by men and that the perpetrators know their victim.

Between 2008 and 2017, seven out of 10 murders were carried out in the home of the attacker, victim or accommodation they shared. Norway’s murder rate is roughly half that of Sweden.

The city prison in Oslo
The city prison in Oslo

Domestic violence

In the second half of the last decade, there were alarming jumps in domestic violence in Norway: between 2005 to 2011, reported cases rose by nearly 500%.

The Norwegian Government outlines physical violence, psychological violence, sexual violence and economic violence as the main categories of violence in families. Additionally, things like forced marriage and exploitation of family members – or cohabitants – such as prostitution, work, begging or other crimes also count as domestic violence.

Sexual violence

In 2018, the total number of recorded rapes in Norway was 2,450. It was the highest recorded figure in last ten years which increased from 2,246 the year before. It remains unclear why these figures are increasing.

Reports of sexual abusive or inappropriate behaviour fell by just over a hundred to 1,392, but it was still the third-highest total from the last ten years of recorded data.


2018, saw a total of 70,562 thefts or robberies across the country. 3,036 items were stolen from a home or permanent residence, while thefts from cars or other mobile vehicles stood at 7,209.

The number of stolen bicycles stolen during the same period was 14,242. Although, it is also worth noting that it is a fairly common practice to leave bicycles unlocked outside of properties, making them easy pickings for would be thieves.

The highest figure in the theft category was items stolen from the person. A country-wide total of 26,431 personal thefts were registered in 2018. Stolen items from holiday home or second homes was fairly low by national standards, with just 551 in total.

Organised crime in Norway

The levels of organised crime in Norway remains on the low side. Although there are still many calls made to the police to report issues such as petty theft and robberies that are often connected to small scale organised crime gangs.

Other such levels of organised crime revolve around various gangs and are usually associated with weapons and drugs offences.

During the 1980s and 1990s, motorcycle gangs were a problem. A number of different biker gangs operated across Scandinavia and were associated with weapons and drugs offences. Although, this type of organised crime been a much lesser extent in recent years.

Drug addicts in Norway are the target of new trials

Drug crimes in Norway

A recent report into drug use in young adults (16-34 years) in Norway revealed that 8.6% had used cannabis. It was by far the most common drug of choice for people in that age bracket.

Read more: Free Heroin Trials Announced in Norway

MDMA was next in the list, with 1.6% of those surveyed admitting having taken it. Another popular drug of choice was cocaine which had a usage rate of 1.3%, and amphetamines had a percentage of 0.5%.

Cannabis resin was top drug seized in 2018, followed by herbal cannabis in second, Amphetamines in third, cocaine in fourth and methamphetamines in firth.

The report also noted a total of 36,184 drug offences were reported in 2018, these covered anything from dealing, usage, possession or intent to supply.

Traffic offences in Norway

Traffic offences fell in Norway for the fourth consecutive year. Despite this, the figure remains fairly high if you take into account the country’s population of 5,356,789.

44,241 road traffic offences were logged by the authorities – 11,152 of those offences were for speeding. There were also 11,114 instances of drivers who were unable to produce a valid driving licence or official driving permit for their vehicle.

Crime in Oslo

With a population of 690,335, Oslo is Norway's biggest city by far. So then, it is perhaps unsurprising that the most recorded offences came from the country’s capital.

In 2018, there were 73,069 offences logged by the Oslo’s police department. The next highest in the list was the east with 43,463 reported crimes, followed by the south east on 39,740. Here's a breakdown of the Oslo city region's figures:

  • Property theft: 28,853
  • Public order and integrity violations: 9,635
  • Violence and maltreatment: 8,421
  • Drug and alcohol offences: 7,486

Crime in the other Nordic countries

Compared to other Nordic countries, the majority of Norway’s crime figures continue to be on the low side.

For instance, during 2018 in Denmark, there were 52 murders, that’s over double the total in Norway. And to put that into context, the population of Denmark has only 500,000 more citizens. Meanwhile, Swedish reports reveal that there were 108 homicides in Sweden.

In 2018, the total amount of criminal offences in Denmark was 507,824, which again is higher than Norway (317,927). During the same period in Sweden, here were 1,550,626 reports of criminal activity, a figure that far exceeds Norway and Denmark.

In summary, there is a relatively low crime rate in Norway. Personally speaking, I have so far found it to be a serene and peaceful home, tucked away in a quiet corner of Europe.

About Mathew Paul Gundersen

Mathew is a British (og litt Norsk) guy living in Stavanger, Norway. He is a journalist, a literature student and a keen runner (amongst other things).

Norway Weekly Subscribe Banner

9 thoughts on “Crime in Norway: The Facts & Figures”

  1. As an American observing Norway from the inside, I have personally never felt safer (perhaps only Japan compares).

    I attribute it partly to the small village mentality that Norway still has. Like, outside of cities like Oslo, everyone somehow knows everyone else or has some tenuous connection.
    After a few minutes of chatting with anyone, I could discover someone that we both know (it is uncanny). If you steal a bike or car, where are you going to go? A bompoenger camera will likely photograph you leaving the town or someone that you know would see you.
    Also, Norway is mostly a cashless society now.
    And finally, I do think that Norway has a good sense of community and good citizenship (in that people tend to do things for the common good rather than other motives).

    • My feeling since my first stay, just before the oil & gas discoveries.
      Still, there is a hard drug problem and kids may be raised in a far too liberal way. Otherwise, an almost perfect country. Far too good for me actually.

  2. I find it interesting that people compare Norway to the US. Do they realize that Norway’s population is less than the state of Minnesota. We have 22 states with higher populations than Norway. The state of Georgia is double the population. So a little tough to compare these two countries.

  3. There are quite a few comparisons to higher crime rates in Sweden but no mentioning that the country has double the population of Norway too.

  4. David, Do not forget how Lillhammer, the Olympic Village, 1992 got its name. I think the Police Service in Norway are more Community minded. There is heavy drinking and that is risky; potential for crime.

  5. This is a nice article! Thanks for sharing it with us! So if I understand it correctly, Norway is a very safe place? But what if I walk by night in Oslo? Or if I bought some items at the shop and have to walk home for 20 minutes, how great is the chance I’ll be attacked? Just to have an idea 🙂 I’m from Belgium, working in Brussels, and there you really can’t walk 2 steps or they attack you and steal everything, even your clothes. It’s a very very dangerous city. Please if possible, with an email 🙂 would like to hear your opinion

  6. I was living there for over 6 six years, very bad experience. Police swept under the table serious organized crime about muslim gang who sexually abusing drugged women. I was only witness and this gang destroy my credibility as a witness and made me drug addict and crazy. Dont fall into fake safe country. Norway sold themself to immigrants influence and Police cant handle organized crimes because they are afraid. That’s because everyone knows eachother and immigrants use their kindness to take control over the country. Stealing a bike or car is not serious crime. Its only safe because people and government are afraid to say the truth.


Leave a Comment