Fewest sentences in 30 years
Compared to the year before, most types of penal sanctions saw a drop in 2017. A significant decline in court-issued sanctions means that the number of sentences is the lowest since 1987.
In 2017, 277 000 penal sanctions were registered, which is a 4.7 per cent drop from 2016. In total, 249 000 persons were given one or more of these sanctions. This is shown in new figures from the statistics on Sanctions. The majority of sanctions were made up of the 210 000 on-the-spot fines issued by the Prosecution Authority for minor traffic and customs violations, and these on-the-spot fines have the biggest impact on the overall development in the statistics. The other 50 000 legally valid sanctions issued by the prosecution authority represent a 7.4 per cent decline from the year before.
Relative to the year before, the biggest drop was seen for sanctions issued by the courts, with 11 per cent fewer sanctions than in 2016. In these statistics, the 17 700 court-issued sentences is the lowest since the 1980s. When factoring in the population growth, we must go back to the 1960s to find a year with fewer court-issued sanctions, as shown in figure 1.
Figure 1. Sanctions by judical authority. Per 1 000 population
|Prosecuting authority||Court of justice|
Particular decline in prison sentences
Most types of sanctions have seen continued declines over many years. Compared to 2007, there has been a drop of over 20 per cent both for on-the-spot fines, ticket fines and court-issued sanctions. The declining number of court-issued sanctions over the last decade is particularly affected by the drop in sanctions involving conditional imprisonment. This type of court-issued sanction has been nearly halved since the peak year of 2005, as illustrated in figure 2.
The number of sentences with unconditional imprisonment has maintained a relatively stable level in the more than 10 000 sentences annually from 2005 to 2016. However, 2017 saw a drop of 13 per cent from the year before to a total of 9 200 sanctions with unconditional imprisonment. The decline in sentences with unconditional imprisonment accounts for nearly two-thirds of the total reduction in sentences this year.
1 From 2014 Juvenile sanctions are included in Special santion or other type of sanction.
Figure 2. Sanctions sentenced by court of justice, by type of sanction
|Special sanction or other type of sanction¹||73||74||69||56||52||56||66||56||45||67||93||109||122|
In 2017, there are two exceptions to the general decline in sanctions, namely instances where charges are conditionally dropped and special sanctions. Charges were conditionally dropped in over 3 700 instances, which was 13 per cent more than the year before and represents more than a doubling since 2007. This development is in line with the trend described in previous articles. Furthermore, 2017 also saw a total of 55 special penal sanctions, which is more than any year since the introduction of these types of sanctions in 2002.
Decline for most types of offences
The overall decline in the number of sanctions over the last decade is particularly driven by the drop in traffic offences, also when discounting on-the-spot fines. Since 2010, there has also been a significant drop in cases in which thefts and receipt of stolen property make up the principal offence. Furthermore, there has also been a decline in sanctions for drug and alcohol offences and public order and integrity violations, with a combined drop of 18 per cent since 2015.
In 2017, certain offences which have seen a stable or increasing trend over the previous years contributed to the overall decline, such as fraud and threats. The exceptions to the general decline are primarily certain offences that are particularly serious, such as rape, severe violence and aggravated fraud, as illustrated in figure 3. Furthermore, 2017 saw a 4.7 per cent increase in sanctions issued for smuggling, mainly due to more on-the-spot fines issued by the Customs Service.
Fewer sentences for violence and maltreatment
The number of sanctions in cases where violence and maltreatment were the principal offence dropped 7 per cent from 2016 to 2017. More than half of these cases were settled by the courts. The 3 100 court-issued sentences for violence and maltreatment in 2017 is 15 per cent less than the year before and is the lowest number since 2002.
In 2017, there were particular reductions in the number of sentences for threats (in total), bodily harm and assault, compared to the year before, with drops of 35, 24 and 18 per cent respectively. Furthermore, 2017 saw a decline in the number of sentences for maltreatment in close relations for the first time, with a drop of 17 per cent. This decline in sentences for threats and offences of violence should be seen in relation to the clear-up rate and the number of completed investigations in 2017.
Figure 3. Sanctions sentenced by court of justice, by selected types of principal offences
|Receipt of stolen property, total||516||476||392||381||302||303||269||203|
|Grievous bodily harm, murder and attempted murder||119||127||133||163||134||110||169||205|
|Maltreatment in close relations, total||198||200||204||220||248||243||319||265|
Despite the increase in the number of sentences for some of the most severe violent offences, the decline for other types of violence and maltreatment was far greater, also when measuring the combined amount of prison sentences sanctioned. Thus, violence and maltreatment is the group of offence contributing the most to the overall drop of 8.5 per cent in the number of unconditional prison days sentenced in 2017 compared to the year before.
Higher fine rates for speeding offences
In total, the Prosecution authority and the courts issued 264 000 sanctions including fines in 2017, which is less than every year since 2003, as illustrated in figure 4. Apart from on-the-spot fines, just over 46 000 of the fines in 2017 were issued as ticket fines. Furthermore, 8 000 fines were issued by the courts, of which 77 per cent were in combination with a prison sentence. In 2017, there was a decline for all these forms of penal fines.
Despite the decline in fines, the total amount of fines measured in NOK increased by 16 per cent from the year before. This amount varies from year to year, and is especially influenced by big fines issued to enterprises. However, the 2017 increase is mainly due to the rates for on-the-spot fines being considerably higher from 1 January 2017. Compared to 2016, this increase significantly affected the size of the fines, as shown in figure 4. In total, the fines issued in 2017 amounted to nearly NOK 1.3 billion.
Figure 4. Sanctions with fine, by amount of fine
|50000 NOK and over||162||190||220||296||341||319||372||344||456||497||546||713||750||942||787||872|