Copenhagen falling behind – in violence

Things are more violent out in the country than in the capital, statistics show

Although stories of stabbings, fights and other violence coming out of Copenhagen create the impression that the capital city is the most violent place in the country, a look at recent crime statistics give a different story.


Measured per capita, there are more incidences of violence reported in some of the the larger towns in Jutland and on Funen – Aarhus, Odense and Esbjerg – than there are in Copenhagen. 


Esbjerg, a port town on Jutland's west coast, had the dubious honour of being Denmark's most violent town in 2012 with three violent incidents reported for every 1,000 residents. In Copenhagen, only two out of every 1,000 residents were involved in some sort of violence.


The statistics are based on the number of violent crimes reported to police in the council where the offences took place.


In general, things are more peaceful on the eastern side of the Store Belt. Rannvá Møller Thomsen, an analyst for the national crime prevention council, said that the reason for more violence in Denmark's 'Wild West' could be the larger numbers of medium-sized cities with what she called "widespread disco environments".


"Two out of three episodes of violence happen over the weekend, and nearly half between 10pm and 4am," Thomsen told Kristeligt-Dagblad newspaper. "It is an indicator that towns with a late-night disco are prone to more violence happening in the street in front of the club."


More lights, less muscle

Thomsen said that better layouts of urban spaces and properly trained bouncers at the discos could help lessen the level of violence. She said that doormen should concentrate more on conflict resolution and less on weight-lifting.


"There needs to be better lighting and a more positive look to the streets," she said "There also need to be alternatives to clubbing like sports and other cultural activities."


Criminologist Annika Snare said that the violence is mostly the result of young people drinking too much alcohol too quickly.


"It's about creating events without aggressiveness,but with a sense of community," she told Kristeligt Dagblad. "If you look at the the Roskilde Festival, there is surprisingly little violence. That may be due to the slower consumption of alcohol over a longer period of time. At discos, it is about slamming back a lot of shots in a very short period."


Esbjerg's first-place ranking could also be a consequence of a spate of conflicts between biker gangs Bandidos and Hells Angels and a rise in the number of girl gangs in the area.


The number of reported violent crimes reported in Esbjerg has risen in the last ten years. Spokesperson Lars Bræmhøj from the southern Jutland police said that the rise could partially be due to better reporting by citizens.


"My impression is that the amount of violence is not increasing, although it is not dropping as fast as we would like either," he told Kristeligt Dagblad. "Our zero tolerance policy toward violence has encouraged people to report incidents, so the number of cases being reviewed may be rising."


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