Police college director Kimmo Himberg said Finland needs to encourage people from more diverse backgrounds to serve in the police force.
A new batch of recruits—half of them women—began their training at the police college in Tampere this week.
“Based on their names around five percent of new students have an immigrant background, either recent or one or two generations back,” said Himberg, adding that the institute doesn’t record students’ ethnic origin or mother tongue.
Immigrant-background recruits are still rare at the college, which is why the school launched a campaign this year to attract more diversity into its ranks. Finland is internationalising at a rapid rate. Some 200,000 residents in the capital region speak a mother tongue other than Finnish or Swedish.
”Research findings from countries more ethnically diverse than Finland show it’s favourable for the police force to reflect the makeup of the population they serve,” Himberg explained.
Officers working in multicultural communities in Finland have been spreading the word about a career in law enforcement to get new blood to join the ranks.
No positive discrimination
The police college said that while it wants to see more immigrant-background candidates, entry requirements will remain the same and candidates must be fluent in Finnish or Swedish.
Language proficiency is often a stumbling block for immigrant-background candidates, according to Himberg. He said those failing the language portion of the test should receive more encouragement to reapply.
Family expectations can also prevent a young person from considering a job with the police—sometimes due to past experiences in their countries of origin.
“Some youths have said it’s been difficult to tell their families that they’re applying to the police college.”