The crime picture has evolved over the past decade to become increasingly complex. While reported crimes and incidence rates indicate that the general crime rate has gone down, there is a rise in some serious forms of crime.

The crime picture

The current crime picture shows organised crime that tends to cross borders, regional as well as international. Globalisation and increased mobility has affected crime. The open borders resulting from the Schengen Agreement have made travelling and transport of goods easier, also for criminals.

Technology enables traditional as well as more recent types of crime. Different online forums may for instance normalise and justify conduct for persons with criminal intent, such as sexual abuse of children, or facilitate violence and vandalism. Use of encryption and anonymization tools makes it difficult for the police to find viable digital evidence. Organised crime may also be influenced by Europe's many vulnerable migrants. People staying in a country illegally without valid travel documents are particularly vulnerable, so are unaccompanied minors claiming asylum.

Concepts and legislation

Crime is considered organised if it is the result of the collaboration of several people. Experience in Norway and other European countries indicates that collaboration mainly takes place between more or less loose networks of criminals, rather than in permanent organisations. These networks may collaborate across national, ethnic and cultural lines. Frequently commanding a high level of resources, they rapidly adapt to social developments, new laws and measures taken by the authorities. They also make extensive use of legal businesses, possess sophisticated technical skills and operate over wide geographic areas.

Several networks that are established in Norway engage in multiple types of crime and have considerable potential for violence. This development is partly due to the growth of organised groups in Norway, but in recent years, the police have seen networks that are based abroad, or at least in part.

A provision on organised crime was first introduced in Norwegian law in 2003 through section 60a of the 1902 Penal Code. The backdrop of the provision is the UN Convention against Transnational Crime.

Deeming organised crime extremely harmful to society, legislators sought to counteract the establishment of criminal organisations in Norway. Amended in 2013, the provision was since incorporated in the 2005 Penal Code as section 79c.

Under Norwegian law, organised crime is a criminal offence that is

«committed as part of the activities of an organised crime group».

The term in Norwegian law refers to the organisation of the crime group, not to the organisation of the crime committed. While there is no statutory requirement for perpetrators of the criminal offence to be 'professional criminals', it would not suffice for perpetrators to commit crime 'just' sporadically. The criminal offence needs to be directly connected with the group's activities and must fit its criminal profile.

«...a collaboration between three or more people whose main purpose is to commit an act punishable by at least three years' imprisonment, or which consists, to a not insignificant degree, in committing such acts».

Whether a collaboration exists in a legal sense, depends on an overall assessment in which the structure and duration of the group are relevant factors. Random and spontaneous crime committed by three or more persons is not punishable under this provision.

Section 79c of the Penal Code may be combined with any other penal provision, generally doubling the maximum penalty. The increase of the maximum penalty is limited to six years. Application of the organised crime provision results in stricter sentences and triggers wider intrusive and coercive powers under Part 4 of the Criminal Procedure Act.