Citing a desire to make it easier for employees and others to provide information about suspected cases of official misconduct, the city of Helsinki announced Monday that it plans to introduce a new service for the purpose. Yle’s Swedish-language Helsinki team reported that the service will allow city dwellers to anonymously tip off the authorities about suspected offences.
The launch follows reports last week of a case involving millions of euros worth of school IT equipment stolen from the city’s education department. Education department security chief Hannu Suoniemeä is suspected of aggravated fraud and aggravated official misconduct in the case. Two other men have also been held on suspicion of involvement in the scam.
Since last spring, city leaders have been considering how to make it easier for whistleblowers to come forward with information about suspected crime. The city appointed a working group led by attorney Päivi Kuusjärvi. The group’s mission was to create a service that would be as easy as possible to use.
"Technically the tip-off service has been designed as a feedback channel using an electronic form that can be sent to the city anonymously," Kuusjärvi explained.
Number of leads expected to multiply
The city currently receives only a smattering of tips about possible wrongdoing. Kuusjärvi said that if they came in more regularly, reviewing them might then become more systematic.
"We don’t know if it will be one or 5,000 leads. If the service is open to all as planned, the number of tip-offs could well increase," she added.
The whistleblower channel will be first introduced as a pilot. Kuusjärvi said that it is important for a city the size of Helsinki to have a functional tip-off service.
The city is Finland’s largest municipal employer with some 40,000 employees on the payroll.