Murder Rate in Norway: The Latest Figures for 2021

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Updated for 2021: Facts and figures on homicides in Norway during the past years.

If you are a fan of Scandinavian crime fiction, you could be forgiven for thinking that the Nordic nations are a hotbed of homicide. But in actual fact, far more people get killed on the page than in reality.

Types of crime in Norway

That's not to say that the Norwegian police don't have to deal with the occasional murder. But even in the capital city, homicides are far from an everyday occurence.

A Norwegian police car in Aalesund, Norway

Digging into the crime figures in Norway reveals some interesting facts. For example, there are 188 police officers per 100,000 residents.

In 2018, there were 317,927 incidents reported to the Norwegian police across the country, the lowest figure for ten years. Petty crime such as theft makes up the biggest proportion of reported incidents. Sexual crimes and domestic abuse have risen in recent years, but the actual numbers remain relatively low.

But the most surprising number, especially from an international perspective, is the murder rate.

Norway murder rate in 2021

27 people were killed in Norway during 2021. To put that into perspective, Norway's population stands at around 5.3 million. It's a drop of four compared with 2020, when there were 31 murders in Norway.

A police car and police horses in Oslo, Norway

The year started off peacefully and it took three months before the first murder was registered. Since then, 27 victims were recorded in 21 murder cases.

Over the last 11 years, the number of annual homicides has been between 23 and 33, aside from 2013 when it hit 44.

It should be noted that the figures exclude deaths related to terrorism. This means the 2011 figure of 33 excludes the 77 people killed in the 22 July terrorist attack.

A recent Aftenposten report showed the murder rate of Norway has been roughly half that of Sweden since 2002. The number is so low that Norwegian newspapers are able to print articles each year listing details of each and every murder.

Norway's murders in 2021

The most notable murder case occurred in Kongsberg on 13 October. Espen Andersen Bråthen shot at people with a bow and arrow, entered houses and attacked people. Five people were killed.

Artwork inside Halden prison, Norway
Norway's Halden prison

It soon became clear to the police that Bråthen had a long history of serious mental health issues. This was a factor in several other murder cases too.

A well-known defense lawyer was killed in his Oslo home by his son who was found to have mental health issues. It was also a factor in the murder of 57-year-old Marianna Amundsen who was attacked at work in a NAV office.

Read more: Inside a Norwegian Prison

In the autumn of 2021, a spate of shooting incidents occurred in the capital, Oslo. Many people survived, but some weren't so lucky. 20-year-old Hamse Hashi Adan was shot at Lofsrud school in Mortensrud late in the evening. He died of his injuries the following day.

Another notable case involved a house fire in Svelvik, in which a father of four was found dead. Police believe the deceased father killed his family on purpose, before starting the fire.

The prison system in Norway

Mental illness a factor in many murders

Homicide researcher and criminologist Vibeke Ottesen at the University of Oslo previously highlighted the need to look at the connection between mental illness and suicide and murder in close relationships.

“What makes parents extra vulnerable when it comes to adult children with mental illness is that they often live with them, but that they are not involved in any treatment program,” she said.

In July 2020, a 35-year-old mother in Lørenskog was charged with strangling her two children aged one and seven. The woman was hospitalized as she was critically injured when found. Since the incident, she has been judged criminally sane, and acknowledged what happened. Her lawyer said the woman had been deeply depressed for a long time.

In January 2020, a 34-year-old resident of an institutional home for those with substance abuse and psychiatric disorders was killed. A 42-year-old man with a connection to the institute was charged.

Attempted murders increasing

The number of attempted murders has more than tripled in the last five years, from 22 in 2016 to 69 in 2020. Vibeke Schei Syversen, head of the Violence Section at Kripos, Norway's Criminal Investigation Service, is worried by the trend.

“It worries us that it has increased so considerably, because there is a delicate balance between murder and an attempted murder. There are small margins,” she said.

Norway's minister of justice Monica Mæland told NRK that the government is working to combat violence in close relationships. Among other things, a new action plan will be launched in the spring.

About David Nikel

Originally from the UK, David now lives in Trondheim and was the original founder of Life in Norway back in 2011. He now works as a professional writer on all things Scandinavia.

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4 thoughts on “Murder Rate in Norway: The Latest Figures for 2021”

  1. I live in Hot Springs Arkansas USA. I believe there are more murders in my city (population under 75,000) every year than there are in the entire country of Norway. If I lived 50mi northeast in Little Rock, Arkansas, there are more murders in three months than there are in a whole year in Norway.

  2. In a country withouth a 2nd amendment “right”, I believe, has a lot to do with the low numbers. Also, when people care more about good paying jobs and no worries about how to pay for health care, everything becomes more stable. 5 weeks paid vacation from day one, no matter what company you work for. Paid sick days and I can go on and on. Oops, that’s what we call socialism here in the US. Our gun rights are more important than all of that. Are we just stupid or totally brain washed? We keep “shooting” ourselves in the foot at every election, especially so many people that really could use a break.

    • Yea, when you look at it the US can’t be called a top class society anymore. The extreme polarity in the society and a complete lack of empathy or respect for one another has done us in. And by the way I live in Philadelphia where our homicide numbers will outstrip the yearly numbers for Norway by the second week of January 2022!


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