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Majority of party leaders back plan to beef up police force

Most party chairs backed boosting police ranks to 7,850 from its current level of 7,200.

Finland now has some 7,200 police officers. Image: Tiina Jutila / Yle
Yle News

A majority of leaders of parties in Parliament said they support boosting the number of police in Finland by around 650 in the near future, according to an Yle security policy survey.

Yle asked political party chairs whether or not police resources should rise to 7,850 as the National Police Board has recommended to match the strength of the force at the beginning of 2010. Finland currently has roughly 7,200 police in the force.

Centre Party chair Prime Minister Juha Sipilä said in the survey that the force should be boosted to 7,850 by 2023. He noted that in many municipalities, police take too long to respond to emergencies.

Social Democratic Party deputy chair Sanna Marin said that a key plank of the incoming administration (after elections in April) should be to consistently increase the number of officers in police ranks. She added that the public should be able to trust that they can get help when they need it.

Finance Minister and National Coalition Party chair Petteri Orpo remained on the fence on the issue of beefing up the force. Orpo said that his party is committed to at least preserving the current number of police officers and ensuring that they can serve the entire country. The Interior Ministry under NCP MP Kai Mykkänen is currently evaluating the number of personnel required to best discharge police duties.

Police union: One in ten calls neglected

Chair of the police union SPJL Jonne Rinne said that in addition to their opinions on staffing, he wants to see concrete action from political decision-makers. Supplementing police numbers to 7,850 is a good start, he noted.

"The police force has been depleted during the last decade. In that sense this is certainly a positive message. But I hope that in addition to opinions this would lead to concrete measures," he commented.

Rinne said that he believed that recent reporting on suspected sexual offences against children may have prompted leaders to see the need to increase police resources.

"Police alone won’t solve every problem, but society must find the means to address these matters and resolves them. Police need to have sufficient resources to safeguard the public’s right to legal protection in such unfortunate circumstances," Rinne noted.

The union leader said that it is unacceptable that police do not have adequate resources to respond to calls, something that shows in the field as well as in investigative work.

"In practice, one in ten calls is neglected. I consider this a rather large number. When people are in need they turn to the police. Police must then inform them that unfortunately we cannot respond to this emergency call," he continued.

Police will see an easing of the personnel crunch this year, since 150 more trainees than the previous year will graduate from the Police College Academy. Officials had previously increased the number of study places to prevent a further shrinking of the force.

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