Crime in Spain

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Municipal Police officers in Rastro market, Madrid.

Overall, rates of crime in Spain are relatively low in comparison to other European countries, with the notable exception of robberies.[1] In 2022 it was listed as number two out of 35 states in Europe with regard to the number of police-recorded robberies relative to population size,[1] although in 2020 it had a lower homicide rate than the European Union average.[2]

Crime by type[edit]


Instances of robbery are particularly widespread in Spain, as of 2020 Spain had the second highest recorded instances of theft in the EU.[3] One of the often cited reasons for this is a national law that states that theft of anything worth less than €400 ($459) is not a crime, but a misdemeanor. Additionally offenses for theft of anything valued less than 400 euro are not accumulated to result in more serious charges.[4]


In 2020, Spain had a homicide rate of 0.64 per 100,000 population, making it the 6th lowest among 30 European countries[2] and lower than the European Union average of 0.9. There were a total of 298 homicides in Spain in 2020.[5][1] Many terrorist attacks have occurred in Spain, the most deadly of which was the 2004 Madrid train bombings.

Asturias, in Northern Spain, has one of the countries' lowest crime rates. With a population of 1 million people, it registered only 1 homicide during 2021.[6] Its biggest city, Gijón, with more than 250,000 inhabitants, has not registered a homicide since February 2020 (as of June 2022), before COVID-19 lockdown.[7][8]

Drug-related crime[edit]

Spain is the principal route of entry of drugs and narcotics into the European Union. Indeed, about half of the cocaine found by law enforcement agencies in Europe is found by Spanish police.[9] As of 2005, Spain had the highest rate of cocaine users in the world.[9]

Cocaine importation[edit]

Cocaine usage in Spain is high by world standards.[10] Spain is a major transit point for cocaine entering Europe.[10] After arrival in Spain, much of the cocaine is then trafficked to other countries.[10] In 2005, over 50% of the cocaine found by police in Europe was found by Spanish police.[10] The so-called Galician mafia is the main trafficker of cocaine into Spain and to European countries such as the United Kingdom.

Background level of crime against tourists[edit]

The US Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs advised travellers in 2011 that Spain had a "moderate rate of crime".[11] Street crimes against tourists occur in the principal tourist areas.[11] Madrid and Barcelona, in particular, report incidents of "pick-pocketing, mugging, and occasional violent attacks".[11] In Madrid, incidents have been reported in "all major tourist areas, including the area near the Prado Museum, near Atocha train station, in Retiro Park, in areas of old Madrid including near the Royal Palace, and in Plaza Mayor".[11] In Barcelona, the largest number of incidents reported also occurred in major tourist areas.[11]

In 2019, the Embassy of the United States in Spain issued a warning to its nationals against the increasing violent crime in Barcelona. The embassy highlighted crimes, which were recently committed in the most popular tourist places, such as, the theft of jewelry, money and watches. These offenses have physically harmed the victims in some cases.[12]

Violence against women[edit]

Spain has specific a gender-based violence law with its own courts. In 20 years they have dealt with 2 million complaints and convicted 700,000 people.

Since 2003 the Spanish government has been counting gender violence murders, by December 2022 they had reached 1,183 murders.[13]

Crime statistics[edit]

Crime statistics for Spain are published annually by the Instituto Nacional de Estadística.[14] Different agencies of Spain and the European Union conduct analysis of the crime data in Spain. Statistics show Spain is one of the European countries with the lowest crime rate, according to a 2005 Gallup Europe research study.[15][16][17][18][19] The rate of misdemeanours and crimes in Spain was 46 per 1,000 people in 2009.[20] In 2013 Spain had one of the lowest crime rates in Europe.[21]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Crime statistics". Eurostat. Jun 2022. Retrieved 20 Jan 2023.
  2. ^ a b "Victims of Intentional Homicide [Eastern, Western, Southern and Northern Europe]". UNODC. Retrieved 21 Jan 2023.
  3. ^ "Crime statistics". Retrieved 2022-10-15.
  4. ^ "Amid Tourists and Gentrification, Barcelona Faces a Crime Wave". Retrieved 2022-10-15.
  5. ^ "Spain Number of homicides, 1990-2021 -". Knoema. Retrieved 2022-10-15.
  6. ^ "Asturias registró en 2021 la segunda tasa de criminalidad más baja del país (in Spanish)".
  7. ^ "Gijón - Crimen: asesinatos, robos, secuestros y otros delitos registrados en cada municipio (in Spanish)".
  8. ^ Peláez, I. (2022-05-06). "El asesino de la gijonesa Lorena Dacuña, condenado a 20 años de cárcel y cinco de libertad vigilada". La Nueva España (in Spanish).
  9. ^ a b Tremlett, Giles (7 September 2005). "Spain tops table of cocaine use". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 15 August 2011.
  10. ^ a b c d Tremlett, Giles (7 September 2005). "Spain tops table of cocaine use". The Guardian. London.
  11. ^ a b c d e "Spain and Andorra Country Specific Information". Archived from the original on 14 February 2013.
  12. ^ "Alert from the U.S. Embassy due to crime in Barcelona". Majorca Daily Bulletin. Retrieved 22 August 2019.
  13. ^ "Spain sees 'dreadful' December spike in women being murdered". 30 December 2022.
  14. ^ "Datos de Seguridad y Justicia". Instituto Nacional de Estadística (in Spanish). Madrid. Archived from the original on 2 September 2011. Retrieved 15 August 2011.
  15. ^ Hampshire, David (2000). Living and Working in Spain: Survival Handbook. Survival Handbooks (Third ed.). Survival Books. ISBN 978-1-901130-41-6.
  16. ^ van Dijk, Jan; Manchin, Robert; van Kesteren, John; Nevala, Sami; Hideg, Gergely. "The Burden of Crime in the EU" (PDF). Galluo Europe. Archived from the original (PDF) on 28 September 2011. Retrieved 15 August 2011.
  17. ^ Gómez, Ignacio (2007-02-06). "Un informe europeo clasifica a España como el país de Europa con menos delincuencia común" (in Spanish). Madrid: Diario 20 Minutos. Retrieved 15 August 2011.
  18. ^ Europeworld. "European Crime Rates". Europe World. Archived from the original on 29 August 2011. Retrieved 23 August 2011.
  19. ^ Johnston, Philip (6 February 2007). "Britain tops European crime league". London: The Telegraph. Retrieved 23 August 2011.
  20. ^ J. A. R. (9 March 2010). "La delincuencia en 2009 fue la más baja de la década, según Interior". El País (in Spanish). Retrieved 15 August 2011.
  21. ^ La criminalidad en España cada 1000 habitantes (entre enero y mayo 2014)

External links[edit]