Between 2009 and 2017, the number of homicides continuously dropped across the whole European Union (EU). Since the latest data set is from 2018, Britain is still listed as an EU Member State — were this not the case, the overall picture would be even better.
Fewer and fewer homicides
The number of intentional homicides decreased in 25 of the 28 Member States, and increased in three. One of the latter countries is Malta, where there were four homicides in 2009, and six in 2018, though the real peak was in 2017, when there were seven intentional homicides. On a much larger scale, the British trend was similar: 708 murders in 2009, 787 in 2017, and 754 in 2018. Next is Sweden: after 93 murders in 2009, there were 113 in 2017 and 108 in 2018. In 25 EU countries, the situation clearly improved, but we’ll get back to this below.
First, let’s look at the data for Hungary, where the number of homicides has also dropped significantly. According to Eurostat data, 139 murders were reported in Hungary in 2009, only 85 in 2017, and 83 in 2018. Aggregate data from the Hungarian police for the same years shows the same trend, though the numbers are different: 158 voluntary homicides in 2009, 104 in 2017 and 88 a year later (we’ll suggest reasons for this discrepancy a little later).
Overall, homicides decreased significantly across the EU, with 6,100 registered cases in 2009 and “only” 4,747 in 2018.
Danger in the Baltic states
There aren’t many big surprises in these statistics. More homicides are committed in larger countries than in countries like Luxembourg or the aforementioned Malta, where there’s one murder every 2-4 months. However, the greatest number of homicides does not occur in the most populated Member State. There are more than 83 million people living in Germany, where 632 homicides occurred in 2018, compared to 779 homicides in France with 67 million inhabitants.
To make these figures easier to comprehend, a homicide rate per 100.000 people is used. This reflects a more realistic picture of how often homicides occur, and makes it clear that the largest Member States are not the most dangerous.
As you can see, the Baltic states top the ranking, followed by a fourth northern country, Finland. The top countries have changed over the last ten years, as a result of an impressive reduction in homicide numbers in Lithuania (c