OECD Factbook 2009: Economic, Environmental and Social Statistics
branch Quality of life
branch Security
Victimisation rates
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The risk of being victim of a physical assault or other types of crime is one of the main factors shaping personal security and quality of life. While comparisons of crime statistics based on police records are potentially affected by cross-country differences in reporting practices, greater comparability can be achieved through household surveys designed to assess people's experience with victimisation.

Respondents to the surveys used here are asked about victimisation by ten types of conventional crimes that they themselves, or other members of their households, may have experienced in the previous year. These conventional crimes cover vehicle-related crimes, burglary, theft of personal property, and contact crimes. Also covered, but more difficult to measure, are non-conventional crimes such as drug-related problems, hate crime, street level corruption and consumer fraud.


Crime statistics shown here are based on the 2005 International Crime Victim Survey (ICVS), run by a consortium coordinated by the United Nations Interregional Criminal Justice Research Institute (UNICRI) and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). ICVS data for European countries are drawn from the European Survey on Crime and Safety, organised by a consortium led by Gallup Europe. Previous waves of this survey were conducted in 1989, 1992, 1996 and 2000, and most results can be compared across waves.


While survey results are based on representative samples, they are affected by design features such as mode of interviewing and period of fieldwork. Samples sizes are usually limited to 2 000 people in most countries.

Comparability problems are higher for non-conventional crimes (especially those experienced by a small minority of people) and for sexual crimes (due to differences across countries in perceptions of what is unacceptable sexual behaviour).

Most recent data refer to surveys undertaken in either 2004 or 2005. Earlier data refer to 2000 for all countries except Austria (1996), Italy and New Zealand (1992) and Norway, Germany and Spain (1989).


Almost 16% of the population of OECD countries reported having been victim of a conventional crime in 2004-2005. Crime victimisation is above 20% in Ireland, New Zealand, Iceland and the United Kingdom, closely followed by the Netherlands, Denmark, Mexico, Switzerland and Belgium, but is at or below 10% in Hungary, Japan and Spain. Since 2000, victimisation rates have declined by 3 points on average, with falls in 18 out of the 20 OECD countries for which information is available.

When looking at various types of crimes, less than 3% of the population reported having been victim of an assault or threat, ranging from around 5% or more in the United Kingdom, Iceland, Ireland and New Zealand, to less than 1% in Japan, Italy and Portugal. On average, around 1% of the population declared having been victim of a robbery, with higher levels in Mexico and Ireland. Sexual offences against women are reported by around 2% of respondents, while 10% of respondents declared having experienced some types of consumer fraud, ranging from close to 25% in Greece to less than 2% in Japan. The share of people reporting a personal experience of corruption is small on average, but much higher in Greece and Mexico. In general, the share of people reporting fear of crime and assaults is much higher than the prevalence of crime victimisation, with some of the countries reporting lower victimisation also reporting higher fear of crime, and vice versa.



Analytical publications

  • Van Djik J., J. Van Kesteren and P. Smit Paul (2008), "Criminal Victimisation in International Perspective - Key Findings from the 2004-2005 International Crime Victims Survey and European Survey on Crime and Safety" , WODC Publication No. 257, January.
  • Alvazzi del Frate, A. (2003), "The Voice of Victims of Crime: Estimating the True Level of Conventional Crime" , Forum on Crime and Society, UNODC, Vienna, Vol. 3.
  • OECD (2003), Society at a Glance: OECD Social Indicators, 2002 Edition, OECD, Paris.


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Victimisation by type of crime and fear of crime
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Figures Victimisation rates Table in Excel
Victimisation rates

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