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How criminal are foreigners in Switzerland?

Figures from the Confederation show which nationals are most frequently condemned, and they speak an uncomfortable truth.

Published: August 5, 2017, 12:20 pm

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    For the first time, the Swiss Federal Statistical Office has been able to determine the nationality of most convictions, based on the number of crimes from 2014.

    The survey was published in 2016 and reported by Swiss daily Blick.

    From October, foreign hardened criminals are expected to be expelled from the country. With its new practice, the Confederation is expecting around 4000 deportations per year.

    Relative to their share of the population, foreigners commit more crimes than the Swiss do. And numbers do not lie.

    On average, the immigrant crime rate is about twice as high. There have been heated discussions about the interpretation of the figures.

    The Federal Statistical Office (FSO) compared the number of convictions with the number of permanent residents in Switzerland.

    The highest crime rate is found among young black men from West Africa. Their crime rate is 7.8 percent. With 6.5 per cent, 18- to 29-year-old men from the Dominican Republic are only slightly below the West Africans.

    Even if age and gender are omitted, immigrants from these regions and countries have the highest crime rate. For South West and West Africans it is slightly more than three percent. This is followed by North Africans and people from the Dominican Republic with a good two percent.

    Around one percent of people from the Middle East, East Africa, Turkey and Brazil are often punished. Then the rates decline steeply. For Spanish, French and Italian immigrants, the crime rate is below 0.5 percent.

    Only the Germans are less punishable than the Swiss. According to the figures of 2014, they have a 0.27 per cent criminal rate.

    The SFSO has stressed that belonging to a certain nation was not the sole reason for becoming a criminal offender. More important are factors such as social class or education, they say. However, these factors were not recorded in the statistics.

    A Swiss academic researcher told Blick: “The figures speak an uncomfortable truth. It is not the number of offenses committed, but rather the difference between the crimes among the respective nations. Many offenders are not at the top for no reason.”

    But the renowned professor did not want his name recorded in the newspaper. “After praising the FSO’s work last night, there were threats and abuse,” he said.

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