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Norway 2016 Crime & Safety Report

Europe > Norway; Europe > Norway > Oslo

Overall Crime and Safety Situation

Post Crime Rating: Low

Crime Threats

Norway has a relatively low level of crime in comparison to the U.S. and Western European countries with large populations. In 2015, the total amount of crimes reported in Oslo continued to decrease, down 8.7 percent from 2014.

The majority of the criminal cases reported to the police continue to be theft-related incidents. In Oslo and the other major urban areas, crime has predictably been centered in the inner city and high transit areas. Residential burglaries remained fairly stable in 2015, with a 2.7 percent increase from 2014. Thefts from persons in public is common, especially pickpocketing and other crimes of opportunity focused on tourists, but 2015 saw 1,700 less cases of this crime reported in Oslo. This marked a 20.9 percent decrease from 2014.  

Violent and weapons-related crimes, to include physical and non-physical threats, had very little change in 2015, with a slight decrease of 1.2 percent. These crimes usually occur in areas known to have drug trafficking and gang problems, such as certain parts of eastern Oslo and elsewhere. Sexual crimes saw the greatest increase in 2015, due in part to the change in the penal code that became effective October 1, 2015. The new penal code reclassified a variety of crimes, causing a spike especially sexual-related crimes. Sexual abuse increased 28.5 percent; the result of a few big cases involving the abuse of minors via the Internet. Rape and attempted rape cases increased 19.6 percent in 2015.

Organized crime does exist but on a small scale. Drug trafficking, petty theft, and home burglary rings typify organized crime, which is often associated within immigrant youth or transiting criminal rings from outside of Norway. Reports of crimes involving drugs decreased four percent in 2015.

Other Areas of Concern

Travel in all areas of Norway is considered safe. Areas close to and immediately east of the main train station in downtown Oslo have higher instances of open drug use and crime in general, especially at night. Tourists and other short-term visitors should be aware that instances of pickpocketing and petty theft are predictably common in the major tourist areas, hotel lobbies, and in the areas around train and transit stations. Most hotels and tourist areas are located within walking distance of what can be considered Oslo’s higher crime areas, making instances of property crime and/or petty theft more likely to occur. 

Parks in Oslo, even in “safe” neighborhoods, have been the sites of several rapes and muggings in the past few years. Individuals who have been targeted have generally been either alone or in small groups, walking late at night in areas without much pedestrian traffic or ambient light.

Transportation-Safety Situation

Road Safety and Road Conditions 

The climate causes occasional problems for the traveler. Mountain roads are narrow and winding. Some mountain roads are closed from late fall to late spring due to blockage by snowfall or danger of avalanches. Icy road conditions are a concern during the winter. Oslo has lowered speed limits in the city to alleviate winter air pollution. Spring flooding can create traffic delays. 

There is a relative scarcity of freeways, and the roads are often narrow with numerous ongoing repair projects underway. Despite this, traffic accidents are generally low in comparison to Western Europe.

Individuals involved in an accident involving an injury must call the police and should not move the vehicles before police arrive. Those involved should fill out an accident report but should not discuss guilt and should not drink alcohol for 12 hours afterward. Norway has very restrictive laws regarding driving while under the influence of alcohol or narcotics. Norwegian law prescribes heavy penalties for even a very low blood alcohol level; .02 is the legal limit. Police checkpoints inspecting for drivers under the influence of alcohol are routine and are often set up in the mornings to catch people who drank heavily the previous night and still have alcohol in their system.

Public Transportation Conditions 

Transportation of all forms is generally considered reliable and safe.

Terrorism Threat

Post Terrorism Rating: Medium
    
Local, Regional, and International Terrorism Threats/Concerns

The worst incident of violence since World War II occurred in 2011 when Anders Behring Breivik carried out a bombing followed by a firearms attack that killed 77 people and injured many more. Breivik’s attack was targeted against elements of the leading Labor political party and was in response to his perception that the Labor party was promulgating immigration policies that were a threat to his idea of what Norway should be. It is believed that Breivik acted alone, and there has been universal condemnation of his actions and no indication that any like-minded group might try to replicate them. Breivik was convicted and is in prison.

There has been at least one potential attack that was foiled. In July 2010, three Norwegian residents (one a Norwegian citizen) were arrested on terrorism charges. A police investigation determined the three were involved in a plot to construct hydrogen peroxide bombs to target sites in Oslo. The three were convicted of charges relating to plotting terrorist attacks and purchasing bomb-making materials.

Recently published government reports indicate that a growing number of Norwegian citizens and legal residents have taken part in militant activities outside of Norway, primarily in Syria and eastern Africa. In October 2013, a Norwegian citizen of African descent played a prominent role in planning and carrying out a terrorist attack on a mall in Nairobi, Kenya (see OSAC Reporting on Westgate Mall). Norwegian official have expressed concerns that such individuals could present a serious threat if/when they return to Norway.

Norway has open borders as part of the Schengen agreement. Those crossing by land between Sweden and Norway rarely have to stop or show any identification. Because of the ease of entry, it is possible for any threat that exits in any other part of the Schengen zone to enter Norway. However, no recognized international terrorist group is known to be operating in Norway.

Anti-American/Anti-Western Sentiment

Anti-American activities can best be characterized as small, planned, and generally peaceful demonstrations, either against a particular U.S. policy or advocating a particular course of action be taken by the U.S. government. For instance, demonstrations have focused on the U.S. policy regarding Palestinian and Israeli issues, U.S. actions in Iraq, the war in Afghanistan, and capital punishment in the U.S. These protests have generally been staged at the U.S. Embassy or in the central areas of Oslo and have not targeted U.S. citizens. 

Political, Economic, Religious, and Ethnic Violence

Post Political Violence Rating: Low

Civil Unrest 

Norway is a very peaceful nation, and civil unrest is extremely limited. There were a number of uncharacteristically violent protests in Oslo in late December 2008 and early January 2009, none of which directly affected the U.S. Embassy but two of which broke out into riot situations that saw attacks on police with rocks thrown, fireworks (rockets) aimed at police, and police vehicles smashed.

Since that time, no similar incidents have occurred, and the police in Oslo have greatly increased the training of their officers in riot control techniques. While possible, it is unlikely that similar protests now would escalate to such a point of violence. Police are assigned to be present at and monitor all known demonstrations and specially trained anti-riot officers are present whenever it is considered possible that a demonstration could turn violent. There is no threat from war and/or civil unrest.

Post-specific Concerns

Environmental Hazards

There are occasional problems with flooding and landslides in certain areas, particularly during periods of heavy rainfall. 

A larger issue is heavy winter snowfall in the mountainous areas.

Drug-related Crimes

Drug problems are increasingly becoming similar to what is seen in other Western European nations. At night, especially during the weekend, open drug use can be seen. Open drug use by heroin addicts can be seen in downtown Oslo, especially near the main train station. As a result, other types of criminal activity have increased in these areas. There are no known issues with narcoterrorism.

Police Response

The police can be counted on to provide adequate services to foreigners. The police are generally responsive, professional, and cooperative. Law enforcement personnel are well trained, and almost all speak fluent English. Their emergency response time is good, except in remote areas, and their equipment is excellent. Uniformed police patrol on foot, motorcycle, bicycle, horse, and car. As of late 2015, the police were granted an extension to the authority that permits them to carry firearms while on duty. Police usually do not come to the scene of routine non-violent crimes (non-injury vehicle accidents, residential burglaries). Official corruption is extremely rare and is punishable under the law.

How to Handle Incidents of Police Detention or Harassment

The legal system is similar to that of the U.S. American citizens who are detained by law enforcement authorities should request immediate notification to the U.S. Embassy Oslo. Persons detained by the police cannot be held for more than four hours without being formally charged with a crime. Free legal advice is available.

Crime Victim Assistance

The police emergency number is 112.

Police/Security Agencies 

Police have a counter-terrorism squad, which consists of specially trained officers who can respond quickly to large-scale emergency situations. 

Private security companies are prevalent and can be seen performing duties in train stations, shopping malls, and movie theaters. The private security companies are considered professional but often suffer high employee turnover rates due to relatively low pay and limited room for employee advancement. Any private security company must be authorized by the government, and guards must go through prescribed training before they can perform any security guard services.

Medical Emergencies

Emergency medical assistance is widely available, and emergency room care is generally of high quality and for the most part equivalent to U.S. standards. The ambulance emergency number is 113.

Contact Information for Recommended Hospitals/Clinics

Aleris Medical Centre
Phone: 22 54 10 00
Address: Frederik Stangs gt. 11-13             
Opening hours: 08:00-16:00 from Monday to Fridays
Closed on weekend and PH.  Offers walk-in appointments or scheduled appointments. 

Legevakt Vest
Phone: 23 25 11 11
Address: Silurveien 2, 0380 Oslo.
Office hours:  Mon – Fri:  09.00 – 21.00, Saturday: 10:00 – 16.00, Sunday and PH: 12:00 - 18:00
Walk-in and set appointments.

Oslo Akutten
Phone: 22 00 81 60
Address: Rosenkrantz gate 9, 0159 Oslo.
Office hours: Mon – Wed:  08.00 – 19.00, Thursday:  08.00 – 17.00, Friday: 08.00 – 16.00, Saturday: 09.00 – 15.00. Sundays and public holidays: CLOSED.
Walk-in and set appointments.

Volvat Medical Centre
Phone: 22 95 75 00
Address: Borgenveien 2A
Opening hours: 08:00-22:00 Monday to Friday, and 10:00 -22:00 on weekends and PH.
They offer walk-in appointments or scheduled appointments. 

Available Air Ambulance Services

Air ambulance service, as well as ambulance service by boat (applicable to those in outlying islands), is available. After the medical emergency number is called, officials will make the determination if/when such air and boat ambulances services are warranted.

Country-specific Vaccination and Health Guidance 

In Oslo and the other large cities, air pollution in the winter months is prevalent (said in large part to be caused by the use of studded tires on the asphalt) and can affect those with asthma or other respiratory problems.

For additional information on vaccines and health guidance, please visit the CDC at: http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/traveler/none/norway?s_cid=ncezid-dgmq-travel-single-001

OSAC Country Council Information

Norway’s Country Council is jointly administered through the RSO and the head of the American Chamber of Commerce. For further information about the Country Council, contact the RSO in Oslo at (47) 2130-8972. The Norway Country Council is also part of the Nordic Regional Council. The OSAC Europe Team can be reached at OSACEUR@state.gov.

U.S. Embassy Location and Contact Information 

Embassy Address and Hours of Operation 

The U.S. Embassy in Oslo is located near the Royal Palace at Henrik Ibsens gate 48. Hours of operation are Monday to Friday, 08:00 to 17:00. 

Embassy Contact Numbers

Operator tel. (47) 2130-8540, fax (47) 2243-0777. 
Consular Section tel. (47) 2130-8715, fax (47) 2256-2751.  
Foreign Commercial Service tel. (47) 2130-8866 fax (47)2255-8803.  
Regional Security Office tel. (47) 2130-8972, fax (47) 2130-8920.
Website: http://norway.usembassy.gov/

Embassy Guidance

Please review http://norway.usembassy.gov/security2.html for guidance to visiting U.S. Embassy Oslo.

Tips on How to Avoid Becoming a Victim

Situational Awareness Best Practices 

As in any other Western country, especially in urban areas, the exercise of basic security awareness is prudent and called for. Exercising common sense and good judgment can best ensure personal safety.

Travelers should keep weather conditions in mind when planning any type of travel around Norway.

Travelers are urged to use their hotel safes or safe deposit boxes and to carry limited amounts of cash and valuables. American citizens should make every effort to maintain a low profile and should avoid wearing items that draw attention to themselves. 

Visitors to Oslo are advised to walk in groups if possible and to stick to illuminated areas that are heavily trafficked. Carry a cell phone at all times and be prepared to call the police emergency number (112) if a dangerous situation develops.