Barcelona sees drop in thefts and violent robberies compared with summer 2019

There has been a 71% increase in arrests made for sexual violence compared to pre-pandemic figures

Police officers arresting a person in Barcelona
Police officers arresting a person in Barcelona / Courtesy of Mossos d'Esquadra

ACN | Barcelona

September 14, 2022 10:06 AM

Barcelona has seen a drop in thefts and violent robberies this summer compared to the last summer before the pandemic hit, although arrests for sexual violence have increased significantly. 

The summer of 2022 saw a 12% drop in criminal acts overall, according to data released by the city council on Wednesday.

The report details that thefts have dropped from 23,932 reported incidents in 2019 to 18,567 in 2022, a drop of 22.4%, while violent street robberies have fallen from 2,223 before the pandemic to 1,953, a decrease of 12.5%.

Cases of sexual assault and abuse have increased this summer by 25.3% compared to 2019. Specifically, sexual assaults have seen a slight decrease, from 60 to 47 (down 21.6%) while cases of abuse grew from 74 reported in 2019 to 121 this year, an increase of 63.5%. Arrests for these crimes have risen by 71.1% – from 45 to 77 arrests this summer. 

The crime report notes that the level of tourism seen this summer has been quite comparable to that of 2019, with around 1 million visitors in July. Officials recall that that was a record year for crime, with many types of offense hitting historic high levels. With similar numbers of visitors to the Catalan capital, the council are content with the fact that crime overall has dropped by around 12%. 

This also reflects a decline in the biggest type of crime in the city, property crimes, which account for 89% of criminal acts in Barcelona. Of all property crimes, the ones that have seen the biggest drop are robberies with force in commercial establishments, which went from 539 in 2019 to 308 this past summer, 43% less. 

Home burglaries have also decreased by 20%, and thefts inside vehicles by 9.6%.

Meanwhile, the number of scams reported in Barcelona is growing at a remarkable rate. In 2019, there were 2,989 scams reported, a figure that jumped to 3,957 reported cases this summer, an increase of 32%. Telephone-based scams remain an important area for these types of criminals.

During the summer, 2,886 complaints related to the consumption and possession of narcotic substances were made.

On the other hand, disobedience and resistance to agents of authority have risen, by 74% (269 complaints) compared to 2019, as have complaints for the possession of weapons, with 155 – an increase of 68.48% compared to 2019.

Noise pollution

The summer, police were called to attend to 2,956 complaints for noise pollution between June, July, and August.

With regard to infractions on public roads, a total of 9,134 complaints have been registered for the consumption of alcohol in public – 3,687 more than the same period in 2019. 

The control of activities not allowed in public spaces, such as unauthorized street vending, has also been intensified by authorities this summer. Barcelona’s Guardia Urbana local police filed 21,831 cases related to such activity and confiscated 150,489 drinks.

Colau: positive trend thanks to ‘good work done’

The mayor of Barcelona, Ada Colau, assessed Wednesday’s crime report positively, for the fact that crime has dropped overall by some 12%. 

"These are data that are not just a one-time thing, they are a trend because of the good work done," the En Comú Podem politician highlighted. 

The mayor attributes this to the improvement in coordination between Guardia Urbana local police and the Catalan Mossos d'Esquadra forces, as well as the increase in officers on the street. 

With regards to the growth of complaints for sexual crimes, Colau said that the issue is now being talked about more, that there are specialized protocols and highlighted the protection provided by the new 'only yes is yes' law which sets a new definition of consent. "This provides security for many victims who previously did not report but now do," the mayor said.