Estonia saw minor decrease in crime in 2022

Estonia saw minor decrease in crime.
Estonia saw minor decrease in crime. Photo:

In 2022, a total of 25,663 crimes were recorded in Estonia, 1.2 percent less than the year before, figures released by the Ministry of Justice on Thursday show.

The total number of crimes has remained broadly unchanged for the past three years.

Crimes against property, mainly thefts, but also scams, accounted for the largest share, or 46 percent, of registered crimes. Crimes against the person accounted for 26 percent, with physical abuse cases taking the most prominent place. Traffic offenses made up 11 percent of all offenses, and mainly were about driving while heavily intoxicated.

Justice Minister Lea Danilson-Jarg noted that three percent more crimes against property were registered last year than the year before.

"In 2019, the share of crimes against property hit an all-time low of 38 percent, but now it has been steadily increasing. In particular, the number of shopliftings has increased in the last two years, two-thirds of such cases being systematic offenses. At the same time, we are pleased to note that the proportion of crimes against the person has decreased by four percent compared to 2019," the minister said.

In 2022, 29 percent more crimes against public trust, primarily falsification of documents, were registered than in the previous year. The number of professional crimes, primarily related to giving and receiving bribes, also increased. The number of these offenses rose mainly due to the buying and selling of fictitious certificates of vaccination against COVID-19.

The number of drug crimes registered during the year fell 23 percent and a similar reduction took place in crimes against the family and minors. Although crimes against the person were the second most common crime, their number decreased by five percent year over year.

The number of registered computer crimes dropped by a quarter, marking the first decline in these crimes in a decade.

The number of registered sexual crimes dropped 19 percent. This was mainly due to a reduction in the registration of contact and non-contact offenses against children.

The number of manslaughters, murders and attempts thereof in 2022 was the same as a year earlier, 27, resulting in 18 deaths, which is the smallest such figure since Estonia regained its independence. Overall, there were six percent fewer violent crimes than in the previous year.

In 2021, the number of offenses committed by minors fell to its lowest level in a decade. In 2022, the number remained at the same level. Last year, 737 crimes committed by minors were recorded, four percent fewer than the year before. However, the number of misdemeanors committed by minors was up by one percent at 3,443.

According to the minister of justice, official crime statistics reflect the crimes reported to the police and other law enforcement agencies, but do not show all the crimes committed.

"Alongside statistics, it is also important to monitor the information gathered through surveys. For example, the latest victim survey shows that six percent of respondents fell victim to a crime last year, compared to 5 percent a year earlier. Considering the margins of error in the survey, it can be said that there has been no significant change in the level of crime, and the same can be seen from the statistics on recorded crime," Danilson-Jarg said.

However, according to the minister, some changes have taken place in the types of crimes, giving an indication of where prevention should be made more effective.

"For example, we need to continue working with those who drink too much alcohol so that drunk driving is reduced. Certainly, an important factor is the performance of the economy and people's livelihoods, which may be one of the reasons for the increase in the number of cases of systematic shoplifting. Work with young offenders and the programs used in that domain have produced good results -- this work must definitely be continued and strengthened in order to achieve good results in the long term as well," the minister added.