What Makes Stockholm Such a Safe City?

Stockholm is very safe both day and night | © Yianns / Flickr
Stockholm is very safe both day and night | © Yianns / Flickr
Stockholm, as well as Sweden as a whole, has long been seen as a calm place, where very little drama occurs and people are happy and relaxed. It is a city that is culturally rich, but usually appears to be light on significant news. Newspapers outside the country rarely carry articles about major incidents or issues. However, recent events in the city have begun to damage this reputation, so it’s time to take a look at why Stockholm is in fact still one of the world’s safest cities.

Stockholm has been affected by a couple of notable isolated incidents in recent months, and the veneer of calmness that once cloaked the city has slipped a little. Stockholmers are still comfortable and relaxed, but there used to be a certain feeling of invincibility about the city that does seem to have taken a slight hit in the past year or so.

Stockholm at night © Giuseppe Milo / Flickr

Stockholm, however, remains one of the safest cities, not just in Europe, but in the world. It is a city with a tremendously low crime rate, and one where both residents and tourists feel safe. The 2017 Safe City Index ranked it as the third-safest city in the world with under five million inhabitants. It also placed Stockholm in the top 10 worldwide in terms of personal security, infrastructure security and health security.

The World Economic Forum’s tourist survey placed Stockholm as the 19th most secure country in the world for tourists to travel to, and many of the countries ahead of Sweden were very small nations such as Luxembourg and Iceland. In essence, then, Stockholm is one of the safest major cities to travel to in the world.

Why is Stockholm so safe?

There are three main reasons why Stockholm remains a very safe city to travel to.

It is well policed, but not over-policed

You won’t see an officer patrolling every corner, but if the need for a police presence arises, officers always seem to respond quickly and with the minimum of fuss. Stockholm’s police officers tend to be calm and thorough, and their English is usually excellent, so you won’t have problems if you are visiting the country and can’t speak Swedish. Stockholm feels safe because it always seems as if the city is ready to deal with issues, but there is none of the tension that can be felt if there are police all over the streets.

Stockholm police © Frankie Fouganthin / Wikicommons

The city is well lit

In winter, Stockholm is a very dark city. It is not unheard of to go days at a time without seeing the sun. Many office workers go to work in the dark, watch from their window as the sun comes up for a handful of hours and then sets again, before setting off home in darkness once again. This means that Stockholm has invested a great deal in ensuring that streets are well illuminated, that lights are always properly maintained and looked after and that you rarely have to walk down a dark or poorly lit street. This not only decreases the chances of being confronted in a dark alley, but also makes everyone more aware of themselves and other people around them. If you are walking from work at night or leaving an event, you should not be faced with darkness on your walk home.

Stockholm is very well lit at night © Magnus Johansson / Flickr.

Transport is excellent and well regulated

In many cities, problems can occur on public transport. In many cases it doesn’t run late enough, or it can be badly maintained, or in some cases not well policed. Problems can also occur when a crime does happen and it is not dealt with efficiently, or language related problems can occur. None of these concerns are experienced by Stockholmers. Pickpocketing and other petty crime is a relatively rare occurrence on the t-bana, and it is always well dealt with when it is reported.

Officers nearly always speak flawless English, so there are rarely any language-related problems, and the t-bana runs until around 1am on weekdays and all night at the weekends. When the t-bana is not running it is replaced by regular buses throughout the city. If you do want to hop in a taxi, they, too, are well regulated and safe.

Stockholm’s t-bana is beautiful and safe © Tim Adams / Wikicommons