In addition, the report discusses how concerned people are about experiencing crime, and if they have adopted measures in response to perceived risk of assault or harassment to avoid situations where such incidents could occur. The report also looks at how willing people would be to intervene, report to the police or, if asked, give evidence in court in three hypothetical scenarios: physical violence between partners, physical violence against a child, and a crime against the environment.
The results presented offer the first EU-wide crime survey data on the general population’s experiences of crime victimisation that can be used to inform EU and national policy and legislation on crime victims.
In this report:
More than 22 million people in the EU experienced physical violence in the year before the survey.
Physical violence is a worrying reality across the EU, as the survey data show. In line with the Victims’ Rights Directive, Member States should increase their efforts to ensure access to justice for all victims of crime, including the most vulnerable, by providing victims with appropriate information, support and protection, and by enabling their participation in criminal proceedings.
The rate of physical violence experienced by young people is much higher than in other age groups. This warrants action by EU Member States to ensure that young people are informed about their rights and where to turn after experiencing physical violence. In this age group, some experiences of violence can occur at school or in tertiary education settings, involving victims’ peers. That makes it important to adopt targeted measures for this context.
EU Member States should develop targeted measures to prevent physical violence against persons with disabilities, ethnic minorities and lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex people, who experience higher rates of physical violence – and harassment – than others. In addition to physical violence in general, these groups are susceptible to hate-motivated incidents, as FRA’s targeted surveys with specific groups highlight. That can have a negative impact on the feeling of safety of these groups.
Women experience physical violence disproportionately at home, while men often experience violence in public settings.
EU Member States should – in addition to measures needed to encourage and empower these victims to report incidents of crime (see opinion 5) – consider introducing specific measures to ensure targeted support for victims of violence in the domestic sphere. This is needed to ensure that the rights guaranteed by the Victims’ Rights Directive are effective in practice for those – disproportionately women – who experience violence in the home, from family members or relatives, and who therefore struggle to obtain support to break the cycle of violence, and to access justice. This can include training and specific guidelines for professionals who are in contact with victims (such as healthcare professionals or teachers) on how to detect crime that occurs in the home, and how to deal with it appropriately. In this context, the European Commission is also encouraged to draw on the expertise and use the potential of the newly established Victims’ Rights Platform.
The EU and all EU Member States that have not yet done so are encouraged to ratify the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (Istanbul Convention). In parallel, EU institutions and Member States are encouraged to draw on data from the Fundamental Rights Survey, and FRA’s previous survey on violence against women, when exploring gaps in existing law, alongside ways to more effectively address gender-based violence through the enactment of current law and policy – in alignment with the Commission’s plan of action set out in the EU strategy on victims’ rights as well as the Gender Equality Strategy 2020–2025.
Recognising men’s disproportionate role as perpetrators of violence, and in line with Article 84 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, on crime prevention, the EU should promote and support Member State action in the field of crime prevention. Such action would aim at introducing measures to educate boys and young men in a way that enables them to resolve conflicts without violence or abusive conduct, and to treat girls and women – as well as other boys and men – with respect, drawing on relevant human rights values including human dignity, equality and non-discrimination.
Member States are encouraged to develop criminal sanctions that have a potential to rehabilitate male offenders and to support them in developing as accountable and respectful persons. This could include anti-violence training that pays due attention to gender roles and stereotypes with respect to male aggression. Those Member States that have not done so already are encouraged to consider introducing gender-sensitive anti-violence training as a criminal sanction, with the aim of reducing rates of repeat victimisation, in line with Article 18 of the Victims’ Rights Directive.
Almost 110 million people in the EU experienced various forms of harassment in the year before the survey.
In view of the widespread nature of harassment, the EU should consider reviewing the existing legislative and policy responses to harassment, including sexual harassment, and all possible settings where the harassment takes place (including on the internet), encompassing harassment beyond the workplace and the educational domain.
In view of the disproportional impact of harassment – in particular cyberharassment – on young people, EU Member States should ensure that its victims have access to simple and effective methods to report incidents and have them investigated. The EU can support Member States in this regard by helping to ensure, for example through the future Digital Services Act, provision of harmonised rules on tackling illegal content online – including incitement to violence, hatred and discrimination.
In view of the evidence presented in this and several other FRA reports on the impact of hate-motivated harassment on various groups in society, EU Member States should ensure that they apply in full the protection provided by the EU Victims’ Rights Directive, which treats all victims of hate crime equally, regardless of the attribute invoked by offenders. This would be in line with the principle of non-discrimination, according to which criminal law measures should cover equally all grounds of discrimination covered by Article 21 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. It would also be in line with the Commission’s plans to propose to extend the list of Euro crimes to include all forms of hate crime and hate speech.
One in six people (16 %) in the EU experienced consumer fraud in the year before the survey.
The EU and Member States should ensure continued attention to property crime, including cross-border crime, using various established EU-level networks, including the EU Crime Prevention Network. In this context, they should also consider carrying out awareness-raising campaigns and develop tools to prevent property crimes, including burglaries, alongside online banking and payment card fraud.
Member States should ensure that they effectively implement existing EU law in this area, including on combating fraud as well as consumer laws, in practice. The survey results could be used to guide their efforts. For example, EU Member States could consider either establishing or enhancing existing specialist teams to carry out effective investigations in cases of online fraud, ensuring that victims of online offences can report incidents easily. They should also consider actions to align consumer protection with today’s realities, notably the ease of conducting cross-border and online transactions, in relation to (online) consumer fraud, in line with the New Consumer Agenda 2020-2025.
National authorities responsible for implementing and monitoring the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities should take particular note of the higher rates of burglary, online banking and payment card fraud, and consumer fraud among people with limitations in their usual activities (due to a health problem or disability), to address the challenges of some of the most vulnerable in society.
Most incidents of physical violence and harassment are not reported to the police.
EU Member States should consider introducing specific measures to encourage and empower people to report incidents of crime – in particular, incidents of violence and harassment, as the rate of reporting these crimes is lower than for some other crimes. This is an important condition for ensuring effective access to justice, because in this way victims of crime can be informed about their rights and support available to them. Measures to encourage people to report crime should take note of the survey results about the reasons for not reporting, and about lower rates of satisfaction among non-citizens when they do report harassment incidents.
When introducing such measures, EU Member States should recognise that a relationship between perpetrator and victim affects the likelihood of reporting crimes to the police, such as incidents of domestic or intimate partner violence. As outlined in opinion 2, every effort should be made to encourage and facilitate reporting of such crimes and to allow the victims to break the cycle of repeat victimisation. In this context, Member States should also consider opportunities to provide assistance and advice on rights to those victims of crime who contact services other than the police, such as medical service providers, in the aftermath of an incident.
In recording crime incidents and reporting on the situation in the country, EU Member States could make use of third-party reporting mechanisms to capture more incidents. Some of these incidents would otherwise not come to the attention of the police, such as incidents that victims do not – for any reason – perceive as ‘serious’ enough to contact the police.
More than one in two people in the EU would be willing to intervene when witnessing a crime. Yet one in five would not be at all willing to step in.
EU Member States could consider strengthening awareness-raising efforts to highlight individual responsibility when witnessing a crime, which could enhance rates of reporting to the authorities.
Member States are encouraged to set up campaigns that strengthen the readiness of witnesses to intervene in defence of the dignity and rights of others when they are in peril, while ensuring the safety of witnesses.
To further facilitate victims’ access to justice, Member States could consider having in place effective third-party reporting mechanisms that would encourage witnesses of crime who are not willing to engage with the criminal justice system – such as by calling the police – to contact a third party, such as civil society organisations. Member States could also consider strengthening access to alternative ways to report crime in person, such as by email, video recordings or online electronic forms.
Women, more than men, avoid places and situations due to concern about being assaulted or harassed. This reduces their opportunities to take part in public life.
EU Member States need to recognise that concern about personal safety has a negative impact, particularly on women. They often feel the need to limit where they go and what they do in response to the threat of physical and sexual assault and harassment, as shown earlier by FRA in its survey report on violence against women. Authorities working in crime prevention can draw further on the results of the current survey, to enact measures that ensure equality of access to public space, such as approaches to prevent crime and reduce fear of crime through environmental design.
EU Member States’ measures to improve people’s feelings of safety should focus on groups in the population that disproportionately feel concerned for their safety, leading them to avoid places and situations perceived as potentially unsafe. Alongside women, this includes people with lower educational levels, those who are unemployed, and people who struggle to make ends meet.
This is an overview of the main findings from the ‘Crime, safety and victims’ rights’ report drawn from FRA’s Fundamental Rights Survey. It is the first comprehensive, EU-wide survey of people’s experiences and views on crime victimisation.
See our methodology Q&A for more information on how FRA carried out the survey.
This is the first EU-wide survey to collect comparable data on people’s experiences of crime and safety. It complements official statistics by capturing data on crime incidents, including those that people do not report to the police.
Authorities working with crime victims can draw on the survey findings to assess the effectiveness of existing measures, and to identify gaps, in protection and assistance provided to victims of crime. They can also evaluate steps taken to prevent victimisation.
FRA’s survey captured the views of old and young, men and women and people from different backgrounds. This provides a rich source of data on how the general population – and particular more vulnerable groups in society – experience crime.
FRA calls on the EU and Member States to use the findings to guide their crime prevention and victim support strategies. In particular, it calls for Member States to:
The ‘Crime, safety and victims’ rights’ report draws on the results of FRA’s Fundamental Rights Survey. This is a brief overview of how FRA carried out the survey. More details will be available in the upcoming Technical Report.
The Fundamental Rights Survey is the first comprehensive, EU-wide survey of people’s experiences and views on fundamental rights, including their experiences of crime victimisation.
See our main findings Q&A for more information on the survey results.
In 19 countries, trained interviewers contacted the respondents in person. They interviewed the respondents as well as asked them to complete selected parts of the survey directly, using a tablet computer or laptop.
In 10 countries, respondents were asked to complete the questionnaire online. They received letters by mail inviting them to participate in the survey.
In France and Germany, already existing online panels were used to invite people to take part in the survey. In these two countries, quotas ensured that the sample corresponded with the structure of the total population in terms of age, gender, employment status, education and region.
Ipsos MORI colllected the data on behalf of FRA, in cooperation with Statistics Netherlands (CBS) in the Netherlands, the Centre des Technologies de l'Information de l'Etat (CTIE) in Luxembourg and Statistics Austria in Austria.
It also aims to make the microdata and full dataset available in 2021-2022.
This report is one in a series drawing on the survey results.