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Denmark 2012 Crime and Safety Report

Europe > Denmark > Copenhagen

Overall Crime and Safety Situation

Denmark remains a relatively safe country. Overall, numbers of reported crimes to the Danish police has remained steady over the last three years. This includes violent crimes like homicides and assaults. However, criminal activities have a more transnational character than a decade ago. Senior Danish police officials frequently highlight the international aspect of crime, particularly in areas populated by first and second generation immigrant groups. The rise in illegal immigration as a contributing factor in the crime rate is supported by the fact that in the last decade the number of expelled Eastern Europeans has risen from 122 in 2002 to 527 persons in 2009; an increase of more than 300 percent. Also, the two latest major terrorism cases in Denmark involved cross-border cells. 

Crime Threats  

Levels of crime have generally remained steady from 2010 through 2011. Levels of violent crime remained relatively low in 2011, and reported cases of assault, arson, harassment, and murder have decreased slightly from 2010. However, residential burglary rates have increased slightly in 2011 with a total of 44, 896 burglaries reported, which is up two percent from 2010. Additionally, there have been more burglaries occurring outside of Copenhagen in northern Zealand. This area contains fewer apartments and more stand alone houses. This may indicate that law enforcement efforts aimed at combating burglaries in Copenhagen have been effective and that individuals and groups committing these crimes are finding easier targets outside of the city. Also, there has been an increase of 13.7 percent in the number of arrests for burglaries nationwide; this would seem to indicate that law enforcement efforts overall are proving effective.      

Road Safety

Road conditions in Denmark are generally very good and are on par with other Western European and U.S. standards. Denmark is a very bicycle friendly country, and there are bicycle lanes located throughout the country, usually paralleling vehicular lanes. This can cause problems for people unfamiliar with the area, or if people are not continually alert to this when driving or biking.  

Political Violence 

Regional Terrorism and Organized Crime

There is an increasing general terrorist threat against Denmark, both from terrorist groups and individuals acting alone. This higher risk comes mainly from militant Islamist extremists from both abroad and within Denmark and is believed to stem primarily from the publication of the "Mohammed cartoons" in 2005 and the reprinting of those cartoons in 2008, as well as Denmark's military involvement in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and their involvement with NATO operations in Libya. There continues to be a specific terror threat against individuals and businesses with an affiliation to the Mohammed cartoons. High profile incidents over the past few years demonstrate that the general terrorism threat remains high in Denmark.   
In October 2009, U.S. authorities arrested David Headley for his role in planning a bomb attack in Denmark, most likely targeting the Jyllands-Posten newspaper, the publisher of the "Mohammed cartoons.” Headley is also believed to have been involved in planning the terrorist attacks in Mumbai, India, in 2008.
In January 2010, a man of Somali origin attempted to break into the home of the cartoonist Kurt Westergaard with an axe. Westergaard managed to escape harm by locking himself in a safe-room in his residence. The attacker has since been linked to the Somali terrorist organization al-Shabaab and had been arrested in Kenya on suspicion of terrorist activity. 
In September 2010, a Chechen male attempted to conduct an act of terrorism in Copenhagen when he detonated what appeared to be a letter bomb at the Hotel Joergensen in the central part of the city. The follow-up investigation has led the Danish public prosecutor to try the accused Chechen man for an act of terror that has a maximum penalty of life in prison. The investigation is ongoing and has been carried out in close cooperation with foreign partners (primarily Belgium).
Late in December 2010, the Danish Security and intelligence Service (PET) arrested four males suspected of planning an act of terrorism. A fifth suspect was taken into custody by Swedish Security forces. The suspects reportedly had plans to conduct a Mumbai-style attack with the primary target being the Danish newspaper Jyllands Posten. The investigation is ongoing.

The primary organized crime groups are the outlaw motorcycle gangs, of which the Hell’s Angels and the Banditos are the largest. These groups are involved in drug trafficking, weapons sales, and prostitution rings. There are also some Eastern European gangs that operate across borders and commit vehicle thefts, burglaries, and home invasions in Denmark.    

International Terrorism or Transnational Terrorism

Denmark faces an increasing general terrorist threat both inside of Denmark and to Danish facilities and interests abroad. Denmark is a participant in the Schengen Agreement and implements only limited customs and border checks. These checks are primarily done at airports, ferry stops, and bridges.  

Civil Unrest
  
Demonstrations and acts of civil disobedience are generally limited and peaceful in Denmark. The Danish authorities require all demonstrations to have a permit. There were multiple demonstrations at the U.S. Embassy in 2011; however, all were peaceful and closely monitored by the Danish authorities. 

There were also several small “Occupy” demonstrations near Danish government buildings that were in sympathy with the “Occupy Wall Street” movement. These demonstrations were largely peaceful, though several arrests were made of individuals who refused to disperse from the area when directed to do so.  

Post-Specific Concerns

Environmental Hazards

Environmental hazards are not a major concern in Denmark, although there was significant flooding that occurred in August 2010 and July 2011 after heavy rains. Flooding caused millions of dollars in damage, and many businesses and homes in and around Copenhagen were affected. Rigshospitalet, the primary trauma center servicing the greater Copenhagen area, was forced to temporarily relocate emergency services to Herlev. While this type of flooding is considered extremely rare, it raised questions regarding the city infrastructure’s capacity to handle torrential rains.     

Industrial and Transportation Accidents

Denmark has not been affected by major industrial accidents. Mass transit in Denmark is considered safe and reliable.   
Kidnappings
 
Instances of kidnapping are very rare.

Drug and Narco-terrorism 

Denmark, as the only Nordic country having a land border with Western Europe, is an important transshipment point for all types of cargo including illegal narcotics. 

Danish law enforcement continues to observe trafficking in hashish, using the large volume of legitimate truck traffic through Denmark from the Netherlands, Germany, and Spain. Seizures of amphetamine, cocaine, and heroin are routinely made at the ferry crossings from Germany and during random checks on the bridge from Jutland or at the bridge to Sweden. A majority of the heroin destined for Sweden and Norway transits through Denmark. The availability of heroin fluctuates based on the heroin production levels in Afghanistan. The Danish national police also continue to see an increase in khat seizures trafficked into and through Denmark.
 
Danish police continue to report that the two major outlaw motorcycle gangs present in Denmark, the Hell’s Angels and the Banditos, are actively involved in the importation and distribution of cocaine and hashish.  

Cocaine and amphetamine continue to become more popular in Denmark and are readily available in most metropolitan areas. Police and media reports indicate that cocaine and amphetamine are available in every major city in the country and are widely favored by young people.

Most violence associated with drug trafficking takes place among those involved with the illegal activity, and innocent bystanders are rarely victims of violent activity associated with these groups. 

Police Response

The Danish nation-wide emergency number is 112.
   
How to Handle Incidents of Police Detention or Harassment

Individuals detained by the Danish police should comply with police instructions. Denmark is well-known as a country with very little corruption, and the police are very well trained, professional, and competent. Additionally, most police officers are quite proficient in English. If any visitor did have an issue with unlawful detention, corruption, bribery, or harassment, s/he should report it immediately to the Embassy and request assistance.  

Medical Emergencies

Contact Information for Local Hospitals and Clinics
 
The main hospital for Copenhagen is Rigshospitalet. It is a Level I trauma center located at Blegdamsvej 9, 2100 DK Copenhagen Ø. Phone: +45 3545 3545. Additionally, there are multiple hospitals and clinics located throughout Denmark. The 112 emergency number should be used for any medical emergencies. 

Tips on How to Avoid Becoming a Victim

Individuals should follow the same personal security precautions that they would follow in any major city. Visitors and residents should always lock their residences and use available alarms. To avoid vehicle break-ins, you should park in well-illuminated areas when possible and avoid leaving any valuable items in your vehicle.     

Although not especially common, pickpocketing can be an issue in certain public areas such as on buses and trains and in and around popular tourist areas such as bars and restaurants.  
 
There are no areas of Denmark that are off limits to official American travelers. However, the Embassy advises travelers be particularly cautious in the neighborhoods of Norrebro and Christiania. Norrebro is a less affluent area of Copenhagen and rates of pick pocketing and street crime are higher there. Norrebro is also characterized by higher levels of violent street crime, as there is a high concentration of second generation immigrant street gangs operating in the area. Christiania is an area that started as a social experiment in the early 1970s and is currently a self-proclaimed autonomous neighborhood of about 850 residents, covering 34 hectares (85 acres) in the borough of Christianshavn. It has been an area with open drug markets and open drug use. Attempts by the Danish authorities to police the area have caused conflict and rioting.      

Further Information

Embassy Contact Numbers 

US Embassy Copenhagen is located at:
Dag Hammarskjölds Allé 24
DK 2100 Copenhagen Ø

The Embassy can be reached at the following numbers:
Main: +45 3341 7100
Fax: +45 3543 0223

Post One: +45 3341 7400

RSO: +45 3341 7413
E-mail: CopenhagenRSO@state.gov
Embassy website: http://www.usembassy.dk

OSAC Country Council

Copenhagen has an active Country Council that meets regularly. For additional information, please contact the RSO office via email at CopenhagenRSO@state.gov or by telephone at +45 3341 7413. Copenhagen OSAC website: http://www.copenhagen.osac.gov.