Latvia was EU homicide hotspot in 2017

Latvia has more more homicides per head of population than anywhere else in the European Union, according to latest information published by Eurostat November 6.

There were around 5,200 police-recorded intentional homicides across the EU in 2017, a reduction of 19% since 2008.

However, Latvia distinguishes itself with a homicide rate significantly higher even than second-placed Lithuania and third placed Estonia.

"Among the Member States, the highest number of police-recorded intentional homicides per 100,000 inhabitants were recorded in Latvia (5.6), Lithuania (4.0), Estonia (2.2) and Malta (2.0), while the lowest were observed in Luxembourg (0.3), Czechia and Italy (both 0.6)," said Eurostat.

Police in Latvia recorded a staggering 109 intentional homicides in 2017. The only crumb of comfort is that the figure was marginally lower than the previous year when there were 111 homicides.

Another near neighbor, Poland, has a homicide rate of just 0.7.

For context, the Latvian total number of homicides is similar to that of Sweden - a country with a population more than 5 times larger than Latvia's.

Yet as recently as 2013 Latvia reported only 69 homicides.

In gross terms, France had the unwanted distinction of recording more homicides than anywhere else with 942 in 2017.

EU homicide statistics

Intentional homicide means killing a human being willfully and illegally with intent to cause death or serious injury, but not necessarily that it was planned beforehand. It is a slightly wider concept than murder, for which also planning and other criteria are considered, but obviously all murders are intentional homicides even if all intentional homicides are not necessarily murders.

Intentional homicide statistics include murder, deadly assault, assassination, terrorism, femicide, infanticide, voluntary manslaughter, extrajudicial killings, and illegal killing by police or military. It excludes attempted homicide, justifiable self-defence, assisted suicide, euthanasia, and abortion.

On some other crime statistics also released by Eurostat Latvia does slightly better. It has 31 police-reported robberies per 100,000 inhabitants, giving it a mid-table ranking. Belgium has the highest robbery rate (167) while Hungary and Slovakia are the places where you are least likely to be robbed (9).

EU robberies 2017

Police in the EU recorded on average 698 000 car thefts yearly over the period 2015-2017, a 29 % reduction compared with 2008-2010 (yearly average 983,000). Between 2008 and 2017, there have been downward trends in most European Member States. However, Ireland, Greece, Spain, Latvia, Malta, Romania, and England and Wales (UK) all had an increase between 2016 and 2017.

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