Mapping murder patterns in Denmark

Indonesia has lower percentage of murders per capita than Denmark

A Danish researcher has analyzed 1,417 murders committed in Denmark from 1992 to 2016. The conclusion is, that Denmark has a rate of ‘intentional homicide’ of just 1.20 per 100,000 inhabitants, which is among the lowest in the world. Given its relatively small population (5.8 million), that translates to a mere 71 murders that year.

The other Nordics have similarly low stats: also in 2017, Finland also had a murder rate of 1.20 (69 Finns), in Sweden it was 1.10 (113 Swedes), in Iceland 0.90 (just 3 Icelanders) and in Norway 0.50 (28 Norwegians).

The only major countries doing better than that were Indonesia (0.40, i.e. 1,150 murders) and Japan (0.20, for 306 homicides).

The United States is at the other end of gthe scale with a murder rate of 5.30 in 2017, which translated into 17,284 intentional homicides.

Stabbing was the most frequent cause of death (33.2%), followed by shooting (22.2%), blunt-force trauma (21.9%) and strangulation (17.6%). Since most murders happen at home, Denmark’s favourite murder weapon is the kitchen knife. Access to guns is strictly regulated in Denmark, otherwise death by gunshot would probably be the larger category.

A big group, 44% of all killings happen within families. No less than 77% of all female murder victims die at the hands of a relative, and just 24% of men. Spousal homicide is the biggest single subcategory of all murders (26.7%), and 79% of its victims are women. In fact, more than half of all female murder victims are killed by their (former) significant other. For men, that figure is just 9%.

The second-largest category are drink- and drugs-related murders.

Three out of four murders take place at a home, two-thirds occur at night from 6 pm to 6 am, most happen on a Friday or a Saturday. Monday is the least lethal day of the Danish week.

Based on the 1,417 murder cases in Denmark from 1992 to 2016, thye researcher Mr Hedegård Thomsen has established three profiles for the ‘ideal’ Danish murder victims.

  • The average murdered Danish male is between 18 and 50 years old, is killed on a Friday night by a drinking buddy with a kitchen knife, either at his own home or that of a friend.
  • The typical female murder victim in Denmark is between 30 and 39 years old, and is killed at home by her partner or her ex, out of jealousy or because of separation issues. She is either knifed or strangled.
  • Murder victims under 18 years are as often boys as girls, most often killed by a relative – in 75% of cases by their father or another man.


About Gregers Møller

Editor-in-Chief • ScandAsia Publishing Co., Ltd. • Bangkok, Thailand

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